A recent announcement from the space agency NASA has confirmed that the Mars Rover is all set to start using its robotic arm again; the operations will most probably begin this week.
On February 27, the rover suffered a momentary short circuit that left its robotic arm damaged; as a result, all its operations had to be stopped until the malfunction was resolved.
Jim Erikson, the project manager of Curiosity, said that the most recent diagnostic testing of the rover has shown positive results, and the scientists have managed to narrow down the possible causes of the short circuit. He informed that the short circuit has most probably been caused by a sudden short in the drill’s percussion mechanism.
Erikson added that based on further analysis for confirming the above-mentioned diagnosis he and his team members will decide on the adjustments to be made during future drillings.
On March 5, when the diagnosis was underway, a brief short circuit took place. To be more precise, the short circuit occurred when testing the rill component of the rover. This was followed by another mid-test short circuit; although it was transitory in nature, it was enough for triggering fault protection that closed down Curiosity after the February 27 episode.
NASA scientists are suspecting that the root cause of the Feb 27 short circuit was problems in the coil component responsible for creating magnetic fields in order to trigger the drill’s hammering action.
Engineers at the space agency are now working to find out the exact nature of the failure and are thus conducting a series of tests. This is a significant step before moving the rover’s arm to ensure that no further issue crops up when the arm gets into a new position.
Once this last round of the diagnostic process is over, and the NASA scientists are confident about the rover’s wellbeing, the agency will be resuming Curiosity’s operations. The rover will again start collecting rock powder samples, the same job it was doing when the short circuit took place on February, 27. This will be followed by an exploration of Mount Sharp on Mars.
The problem wasn’t a big one as all other parts of the rover were working fine. They were collecting data accurately although the rover was sitting idle and waiting for all the diagnostic tests to be completed.