NASA: Curiosity rover's BROKEN ARM doesn't SPELL DOOM for Mars mission

Jittery space tank expected to resume work within days

Curiosity's view of Mount Sharp

NASA boffins are confident that its Mars-dwelling space tank Curiosity will return to full duty as early as next week, after its mission was temporarily scuppered by a short-circuiting arm.

The U.S. space agency said yesterday that it was continuing to analyse what had gone wrong with the rover's arm movements.

As The Register previously reported, the problem first emerged on 27 February, when Curiosity was prepping for the transfer of rock powder collected by the drill on the arm to the lab instruments tucked inside the rover.

A "fluctuation in current" was detected and NASA then parked Curiosity while it figured out why the error had occurred during the mission's 911th Martian day.

NASA explained:

Since then, the rover team has avoided driving Curiosity or moving the rover's arm, while engineers have focused on diagnostic tests. Science observations with instruments on the rover's mast have continued, along with environmental monitoring by its weather station.

That work has been "productive" in helping the team to nail the possible sources of the transient short circuit, according to Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson.

"The most likely cause is an intermittent short in the percussion mechanism of the drill," he said.

"After further analysis to confirm that diagnosis, we will be analysing how to adjust for that in future drilling."

So, it would seem, Curiosity's curious adventure is set to continue, with the rover expected to resume tackling Mount Sharp within days. ®


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