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Curiosity Sleeps As Solar Blast Races Toward Mars

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- NASA says the Curiosity rover is hunkering down after the sun unleashed a blast headed for Mars.

Photo credit: Courtesy of NASA/Charisse Nahser

In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the robotic arm of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, has been stowed against the body of the spacecraft.

Project managers said Wednesday they powered down the car-size rover as a precaution since it suffered a recent computer problem. The Opportunity rover and two orbiting NASA spacecraft will carry on with normal activities.

On Tuesday, scientists noticed a flare erupting from the sun. The burst sent a stream of radiation and a cloud of superheated gas toward Mars. The solar eruption was not expected to have an impact on Earth.

Curiosity is recovering from a memory problem last week. Engineers were troubleshooting the cause when they decided to put the rover in sleep mode. This means it'll take even longer for Curiosity to return to its science experiments.

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