Mars Rover Gets Mind of Its Own

NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity is getting a chance to call its own science shots on the red planet.
New software uploaded to the intrepid robot now allows Opportunity to make its own decisions about whether or not to make additional observations of Mars rocks it spots when it arrives at a new location.
The rover has already taken its first automated images of Martian rocks to test out how well the new program works. “It’s a way to get some bonus science,” said rover driver Tara Estlin of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., also a member of JPL’s Artificial Intelligence Group, which developed the new software.