The mission controllers understood the malfunctions of the rover drill better, but they are difficult to fix.
On December 1, the device recorded an anomaly in the “drill feed mechanism”, which pushes the stone-drilling rig out with a 7-foot (2.1 meter) robotic arm. Team members quickly came to two conclusions: problems with the brake or a set of electrical sensors that report rotation of the drill. Subsequent work led to a final reason. This was announced by a project scientist Ashvin Wasavada from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (California).
“We realized that it was a brake,” he said on Tuesday (December 13) during a press conference at the annual session of the American Geographical Union.
“It was possible to find out that these are repetitive problems,” says Vasawada. “Everything went away, and we were delighted, but the problem came back again. Therefore, now we are trying to restore permanent work. ”
The drill, used as a hammer, is a very important tool. Since landing in August 2012 in Gale's huge crater, the rover has drilled 15 different target rocks. The analysis of the extracted powder will allow the team members to conclude as to whether the crankcase could support microbial life for a long time in the past. Curiosity has had problems with the drill before. For example, intermittent short circuits in the percussion mechanism occurred within two years.
The team plans to proceed with caution. After solving the problem, the mission controllers are going to use only the rotation function.
Tests on Earth suggest that rotary drilling can cope in most cases.
“We are confident that it will work with softer breeds. For example, argillite ”, - said Vasavada yesterday. “But there are doubts about heavy stones.”
The rover also messes up the wind sensor at the weather station. This was told by the deputy supervisor of the project Joy Crisp. But the rover continues to move up and its general condition is satisfactory.