It was revealed by NASA that Mars’ Curiosity rover has just been left with one usable arm, due to a short circuit that happened when the rover was retrieving a sample.
The Curiosity rover has a broken arm and the nuclear-powered space tank is most likely going to keep its disability indefinitely.
NASA revealed that the problem emerged at the end of February when the rover was transferring rock powder it had collected with the help of its arm drill to the laboratory instruments that are located inside the rover.
During the operation, telemetry received by NASA from the rover shows that a transient short circuit happened, which caused the Curiosity rover to act as programmed and stop the activity of the arm when it sensed the irregularity in the power.
At the moment, Curiosity is taking a break until NASA figures out what exactly went wrong and how and if they can fix it. Until then, the status of Curiosity rover’s arm and the motors that power it is being carefully examined by NASA.
Jim Erickson, Curiosity project manager, revealed that he and his colleagues are running tests on the rover in its present configuration before they move on to the arm or drive.
NASA researchers stated that it was not the first time the Curiosity rover was performing the task of transferring soil samples to its internal laboratory for examination and in fact, the rover had done that five time before.
It is not yet known if the Curiosity rover can be repaired remotely or even what happened that cause the short circuit that killed the arm.
NASA continued to say that a short circuit like the one that caused the arm to stop functioning would have done little damage, had it happened in other systems on the rover.
The Curiosity rover was launched on November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. Its goals include investigation of the climate and geology of Mars, assessment of the field site and whether or not it has ever offered favorable conditions for microbial life and also studies of planetary habitability in preparation for an eventual human exploration.
Image Source: National Geographic