Science News

NASA: Curiosity Rover Short Circuit Disables Robotic Arm

NASA’s Mars-exploring Curiosity rover has lost the use of its robotic arm after a short circuit rendered it inoperable.

The nuclear-powered rover’s problem occurred, according to NASA, while it was “conducting an early step in the transfer of rock powder collected by the drill on the arm to laboratory instruments inside the rover.”

Information beamed back by the car-sized rover indicated that it had experienced “a transient short circuit” which caused its programmed reflexes to kick in. The programming responded by disabling arm activity at the time of the irregularity.

The problem, which emerged on February 27, 2015, has resulted in NASA’s decision to park the rover until exactly what wrong and the status of the components used in the arm’s operation can be determined.

Curiosity’s project manager, Jim Erickson, was quoted by The Register as having said that the team is currently “running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration” prior to any attempt to move the arm or drive the vehicle.

Just what happened, why, or whether the device can be remotely repaired is presently unknown, however, NASA has indicated that the short “could prompt the rover team to restrict use of a mechanism.”

The robotic rover is currently tasked with the exploration of the Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, and landed on the Martian planet’s surface on August 6, 2012.

In other NASA related news here on Immortal News, NASA’s Glenn Research Center has released a sneak peek of a new robotic submersible concept which could be used in the exploration of the vast liquid methane and ethane lakes on Saturn’s moon, Titan. The government funded agency also fired four rockets into the Northern Lights in order to study atmospheric turbulence.

What do you think will happen to the Curiosity rover?

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