The Curiosity Mars rover has been hard at work in recent months, but it seems that the rover decided to take an unexpected vacation as a new technical glitch surfaced.
During the last set of activities, the rover lost its orientation. Data related to memory and aspects like the local landscape, the position of the robotic arms, and that of the instruments are stored automatically from time to time, allowing the spacecraft to gauge its own position and remain safe.
However, Curiosity cannot move until the data related to orientation can be restored. Engineers are working on a plant that should allow them to send the knowledge to the rover and investigate the issue. The rover will not be able to move until then since it relies on this information before the motors are activated.
A new technical glitch affected the Curiosity Mars rover
The before-mentioned feature is quite handy since it protects Curiosity from random crashes into rocks, driving into a hazardous area or using specific tools in an unsafe manner. When the data is restored, the rover will be able to perform the mandatory risk tests and start moving again.
At this point, Curiosity is the only operational rover on the surface of the planet. The iconic spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral in November 2011 and reached the Red Planet in August 2012. The initial goal of the mission was to explore the Martian climate and geology as NASA wanted to learn more about the Gale crater and the potential presence of microbial life.
The initial schedule involved a two years mission schedule, but NASA decided to extend it indefinitely. A great edge is represented by the presence of a radioisotope thermoelectric generator that generates power for the power at all times. This means that Curiosity doesn’t have to rely on the presence of sunrays and can remain operational during the global dust storms that cover the planet from time to time.