Feeds

BAFFLING power cockup halts NASA's nuclear Mars tank Curiosity

Rover's voltage wobbles, probe launches probe

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.