As part of the preparations to start science missions and driving on the surface of Mars, the Curiosity team is busy uploading new software to the rover. NASA says the "brain transplant" will occur during a series of steps from today, Aug 10, through Aug 13, and will involve installation of new software on both of the rover's redundant main computers. Specialists at JPL say the current software load is the flight software version that was focused on landing the vehicle.
Major capabilities in the new version include image processing to check for obstacles which allows the rover “more autonomy to identify and avoid potential hazards and drive along a safe path the rover identifies for itself. Other new capabilities facilitate use of the tools at the end of the rover's robotic arm,” says the space agency. In all, Curiosity carries 10 science instruments including a laser for checking the elemental composition of rocks from a distance.