NASA’s Curiosity rover is wondering just precisely what its place is on Mars in the wake of experiencing a technical glitch.
“Partway through its last set of activities, Curiosity lost its orientation,” wrote Curiosity team member Dawn Sumner, a planetary geologist at University of California, Davis, in a mission update this week.
NASA’s Curiosity Rover Freezes on Mars
The rover stores in memory its body attitude and joint orientation. This incorporates details of the nearby scene, the area of its mechanical arm and the headings its instruments are pointing. It’s everything the information that enables the rover to know precisely where it is on Mars and how to move about safely.
“Curiosity stopped moving, freezing in place until its knowledge of its orientation can be recovered,” wrote Sumner.
Curiosity is still in touch with its team back on Earth. “The engineers on the team built a plan to inform Curiosity of its attitude and to confirm what happened,” said Sumner. The scientists will also work to prevent this glitch from happening again.
NASA has a few machines on Mars and in a circle around the Red Planet, yet Curiosity is the organization’s only working rover right now. It has endured and thrived in spite of a past filled with specialized glitches that have occasionally delayed its science mission.
The resilient rover is anticipating the organization on Mars. NASA is wanting to launch the new Mars 2020 meanderer this July, yet it plans to keep Curiosity ready for action.