Scientists have put Nasa's mars rover Curiosity in the "dream mode", a state that allows the 1-ton robot to save energy while performing vital functions.
The state, which is likened to a reptile brain, allows the rover, like reptiles, to perform just enough activities to stay alive and monitor what was going on when asleep.
"It's sort of the reptile brain for the rover," Curiosity chief avionics engineer Jim Donaldson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, told reporters Tuesday.
"So what it allows us is maintaining a look at the health of the vehicle while the compute element is turned off," Donaldson added. "And it allows turning on heaters, on actuators and so on, in preparation for the next science activity."
Curiosity, which is central to NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission, descended smoothly inside the Red Planet's Gale Crater and though its prime mission is expected to span two years, its plutonium power source could keep the rover roaming for considerably longer than it were not to suffer break down of any of its key parts, researchers have said.
But that does not stop the rover team team from trying to conserve energy as much energy as possible which was where the "dream mode" came in.