The hardy Curiosity rover has lost an arm. This happened on the 27th of February when “the rover was conducting an early step in the transfer of rock powder collected by the drill on the arm to laboratory instruments inside the rover.”
During that operation “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.”
The Rover is getting its well-deserved rest in Mars while the people back home, the NASA, is trying to figure out what caused the accident and analyzing the present condition of the robotic arm and the motors which supply the power.
“We are running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration before we move the arm or drive,” said Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson.
The disabled arm did work in five occasions before doing chores such as conveying Martian soil samples to Curiosity’s belly for a comprehensive analysis,
There was no available information yet what happened and why and if the rover can be repaired using remote control.
NASA says “A transient short in some systems on the rover would have little effect on rover operations. In others, it could prompt the rover team to restrict use of a mechanism.”
Let’s just hope that just like before, the Curiosity will be and going again.
If we can remember, the rover was also damaged during one of it’s drilling missions involving a rock. It also managed to damage its wheels and always NASA engineers were able to repair it using remote technology. If the rover remains nonoperational. the Mars exploration mission will suffer a big blow, unless of course the remote helicopter for Mars project becomes a reality. Until then, let’s hope the “cat” will have 9 lives. It used 3 of it already.