The robotic arm of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, which was reportedly malfunctioning a few days back, is likely to resume work later this week. Prior to this, more tests will be conducted by the engineers to investigate more about a short circuit which disabled the arm of the rover before it moved from the current position. NASA scientists will be continuing to analyze the issue of off-and-on short circuit in the rover’s drill even after the robotic arm resumes drilling. The fault protection systems of Curiosity stopped the functioning of the drill on Feb. 27.
For drilling into Martian rocks, the drill uses both rotation and hammering. Samples of pulverized rock powder are then collected by the rover for their analysis by the scientific instruments inside the rover. Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said “The most likely cause is an intermittent short in the percussion mechanism of the drill. After further analysis to confirm that diagnosis, we will be analyzing how to adjust for that in future drilling.”
Following the detection of short circuit, the movement of the robotic arm was suspended for several days by the mission team. According to Erickson, the engineers were carrying out diagnostic tests which have proved to be helpful in narrowing the possible sources of the transient short circuit.
According to the statement of NASA, the short circuit occurred on Feb. 27 when Curiosity was transferring rock powder from the grooves of its drill into a mechanism that separates and portions the powder. Percussion action of its drill was used by the rover to shake the powder. The short circuit was observed by the engineers, which lasted for less than one-hundredth of a second. However, it was enough to trigger the fault protection systems of Curiosity.