Curiosity rover engaged in drilling the surface of the Mars for minerals and methane gas traces has encountered a typical earth-like problem that is shor-circuit, forcing NASA engineers to halt its work temporarily.
The engineers said they are analyzing the nature of the transient short circuit, which the vehicle followed as per the program and halted its arm to drill the surface.
“Telemetry received from the rover indicated that a transient short circuit occurred and the vehicle followed its programmed response, stopping the arm activity underway at the time of the irregularity in the electric current”, said NASA.
Jim Erickson, Curiosity project manager of NASA’s Mars mission to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions said: “We are running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration before we move the arm or drive. This gives us the best opportunity to determine where the short is.”
Since testing of curiosity may take several days, NASA’s JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, that built the rover and manages the project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, it may lead to parking Curiosity without any other work for sometime.
However, the US space agency said the transient short would have little effect on Curiosity operations in other systems and it could prompt the rover team to restrict use of a mechanism in others.
Ever since it landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, the rover Curiosity has been exploring Gale Crater in Aeolis Palus on Mars and for the first time it faced an onboard fault-protection action on Feb. 27 that halted the arm of Curiosity to transfer sample material being drilled by its robotic arm.
As soon as the fault was detected, the rover followed its pre-programmed instructions and stopped the arm activity without much damnage to other parts of the system.
The short circuit occured when the drill bit pointed up and its percussion mechanism turned on with the rock powder descending from collection grooves in the bit assembly into a chamber in the mechanism that sieves and portions the sample powder, said JPL, which is monitoring the rover.
The Curiosity was drilling a rock target called “Telegraph Peak” when mishap happened though similar transfer process was completed smoothly from five other previous drilling targets in 2013 and 2014, said the agency.