Amid the unprecedented outbreak of deadly coronavirus, the entire team of NASA’s Curiosity Rover has started “working remotely” to practice social distancing. Usually based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, according to an official statement, nobody from the Curiosity Rover team has been present there since March 20. It is for the "first time" that the rover’s operations are being monitored and planned with all members working separately at their homes. However, the operations that were executed two days after online planning, resulted in “drilling a rock sample” at a location called “Edinburgh”.
Mars waits for no one.— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 14, 2020
The entire @MarsCuriosity team has joined the rover in working remotely. And like many who now work from home, they’re faced with new challenges not necessarily on the Martian surface. Here’s how they’re making it work: https://t.co/QAJa5OTpa8 pic.twitter.com/GgnJG9fIAE
As of April 15, as the number of coronavirus infections in the United States spiked to 614,246 with 26,064 deaths, and the Curiosity Rover posted about its team being “alone, together” on its official Twitter account. Launched to Mars back in 2011 in November, the account of “friendly neighbourhood NASA Mars rover” is apparently managed by a team at NASA and the post talked about how the machine has been working remotely for several years now.
Working remotely? I can relate. I've been doing just that since my launch to Mars in November 2011. Now the rest of the team is distributed, too. Here's how they're sorting things out so that we can keep going... alone, together. https://t.co/3mXu7JXkZg pic.twitter.com/4nyKyzHyKw— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) April 14, 2020
According to the official statement, the leader of the Curiosity Rover team, Alicia Allbaugh, claimed to have been “juggling more than normally”. For the team to work effectively from home, several logistical adjustments have been done and the team has also faced the challenge of working without the people who are usually part of the operations by the rover in Mars.
Allbaugh said, “We're usually all in one room, sharing screens, images and data. People are talking in small groups and to each other from across the room.”
“I probably monitor about 15 chat channels at all times," she said. "You're juggling more than you normally would.”
After originating from China’s “wet markets”, the coronavirus has now claimed 126,776 lives worldwide as of April 15. According to the tally by international news agency, the pandemic has now spread to 210 countries and has infected at least 2,000,734 people. Out of the total infections, 484,831 have been recovered but the easily spread virus is continuing to disrupt many lives. Major cities have been put under lockdown in almost all countries and the economy is struggling.