NASA has announced on Thursday that its Curiosity rover has resumed operations in the Mars mission it is currently serving, two weeks after several short circuits in its robotic arm deemed it incapable of drilling rock samples.
The space agency has announced that Curiosity managed to deliver its last collected sample before the breakdown to its integrated CheMin (chemistry and mineralogy) analysis laboratory. The sample was collected from a Mount Sharp drilling site called Telegraph Peak, situated within the Gale Crater in the planet’s southern hemisphere.
NASA also stated that Curiosity did not have any other technical problems, with tests showing that it can drive and capture images as intended. With the sample finally being delivered for analysis, NASA can now drive its rover to drill other targets in the Gale Crater.
Curiosity experienced a short-circuit of its robotic arm during drilling operations on February 27th , with it being experienced multiple times during attempts from operators to recreate circumstances of the malfunction.
The space agency announced that the cause was identified as being a fault within the motor that powered the rover’s arm percussion. Tests done in the last 10 days have had the short circuit repeat in a single instance, with it not last enough to shut down the motor, convincing operators to deem Curiosity ready to resume its scheduled operations.
Operators will still remain wary of any other future malfunctions that might occur in the robot’s drilling instrument, trying to figure out how similar issues might be avoided in the future by changing the rover’s drilling patterns.
This confirms the initial NASA assessment that the short-circuit is not capable of endangering the rover’s $2.5 billion mission, as it continues operations on its third year since landing on Martian soil. Launched from Earth in November 2011, the rover is to set the stage for a more in-depth mission in 2020.
Curiosity experienced worse problems than its robotic arm malfunction during its mission. One of its two main onboard computers became corrupted in 2013, six months after it landed on the Red Planet. Another short-circuit, this time at software level, managed to delay its operations for nearly a week in late 2013.
Image Source: Consolidate Times