NASA Has Halted Curiosity's Work to Investigate a Short Circuit

By Jamie Condliffe on at

NASA engineers are currently investigating a short circuit that has occurred aboard Curiosity. The Mars rover is not carrying out any further work until the fault is diagnosed.

NASA explains that an "onboard fault-protection action" occurred on February 27th, which "halted a process of transferring sample material between devices on the rover's robotic arm". Curiosity is expected to sit stationary for a few days while the engineers investigate the problem.

The rover is designed to stop what it's doing when an electrical irregularity — in this case, a short circuit — occurs. Depending on what caused the fault, it could either pose no further problems or require the use of one, or more, of the rover's mechanisms to be restricted in the future.

"We are running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration before we move the arm or drive," explained Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson in a press release. "This gives us the best opportunity to determine where the short is."

The incident occurred as Curiosity began the process of moving rock powder, collected by its drill, to one of its onboard laboratory instruments. The same process has been carried out five times since the rover landed on Mars. [NASA]

[Image credit: NASA]