Feeds

BAFFLING power cockup halts NASA's nuclear Mars tank Curiosity

Rover's voltage wobbles, probe launches probe

Build a business case: developing custom apps

NASA has halted its rover Curiosity on Mars for a few days while engineers on Earth attempt to figure out what caused an electrical fault in the robot.

Curiosity self-portrait at Rocknest in the Gale Crater

Space selfie ... Curiosity in the Gale Crater on Mars (Credit: NASA)

The space agency was quick to reassure everyone that their favorite nuclear-powered truck was still safe and stable, and even fully capable of operation. But engineers, who were alerted to the fault on November 17, still want a crack at figuring out what went wrong.

"We are taking the precaution of investigating what may be a soft short," said Jim Erickson, Mars Science Laboratory project manager, referring to a type of electrical fault caused by something that's partially or temporarily conductive, rather than a hard short such as one wire touching another and conducting electricity.

According to NASA, Curiosity's team detected a change in the voltage difference between the chassis and the 32-volt bus that distributes power to systems in the rover. The level has been holding steady at about eleven volts since landing day, but had fallen to four volts.

This isn't the first time the rover has had a soft short - it already went through one on landing day. That one was related to explosive-release devices used for deployments before and after it touched down, and it lowered the voltage from about 16 volts to 11.

The engineers are hoping to spend the next few days trying to find possible root causes for the voltage change. So far, they know that the electricity flickered a few times in the hours before the drop and that the issue didn't cause the rover to enter safe-mode. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.