Amid growing public frustration at the lack of results from the much publicised mission to Mars of the Curiosity robot, NASA revealed today that they suspect a large part of the lack of productivity may be due to the work of French programmer Jean Emmard. The head programmer was brought across from Europe having demonstrated his programming skills in Artificial Intelligence projects such as the system for counting the votes for Eurovision and his work reprogramming Carla Bruni prior to her marriage with Nicolas Sarkozy.
However, the space agency’s management failed to take into account the cultural baggage that the programmer would bring along with him.
“Alarm bells should have rung when French bank holidays were taken into account in the initial programming.” admitted NASA’s Steve Forrester, “As it is the robot has restricted itself to working 7 hours a day with an extra day off every month to recover from an effort that it may have been obliged to make."
The Rover also takes a two hour lunch break and is expected to shutdown for the whole of August. Mission control has also confirmed that Curiosity is due to be retired after a surprisingly short working life of 2 years.
Thus far, after 10 months on the planet, the robot has travelled about 10 metres, analysed a tea spoon full of Martian soil and looked dismissively at a pebble. Controllers on Earth were surprised when their first instructions were met with little reaction other than a movement of one of the robotic arms which observers suggested rather resembled a shrug. Better results have since been acheived by sending a French translation of any instructions to which the robot has demonstrated an ability to reply in fluent English.
The problem has been exacerbated by the problems that the robot has experienced in lighting Gauloises in the thin Martian atmosphere and the time it spends updating its Twitter account and Facebook page.