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Curiosity Rover Faces Technical Difficulties on Mars Mountain

Dec 14, 2016 08:10 AM EST

Since landing on Mars in 2012, NASA's Curiosity Rover is slowly making its way along the Martian landscape, all while collecting rock samples. However, while on its way up Mount Sharp, the rover reportedly started to act weird. NASA engineers state that the rover is facing technical difficulties, particularly with its extendable arm that drills holes into Martian rock.

The drill that bores into rocks on Mars keeps getting jammed state engineers at the space agency. As the tip hovers a few inches off the ground, the rover's drill suddenly stops. Engineers have now been running tests as to what could have caused the jam. Electrical and software problems have already been ruled out.

"We said 'go,' and it just didn't go," stated Ashwin Vasavada, the project scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, adding, "You can't just go to Mars and take it apart."

Engineers claim the problem lies with the brakes inside Curiosity rover's motor, which moves the drill. For now, the rover is on stand by as further movements could disturb the scene and could cause more problems.

Vasavada along with his colleagues have managed to get the rover working, but in the end the extendable arm keeps stalling. Moving the rover with the appendage extended could be more than dangerous. All that's left for the Curiosity rover is to stay up the mountain and capture photographs of the Martian scenery.

The reason as to why the rover is up on Mount Sharp is due to its layers of rock. These could present a timeline extending billions of years into the past of the red planet. It could also show them clues as to how groundwater and lakes have changed over time.

Since landing on the red planet, Curiosity rover has driven more than 10 miles. Another rover similar to the design and size of Curiosity, named Mars 2020, is said to launch by July. It will include an ultraviolet Raman spectrometer and the ability to detect organic compounds on the red planet.

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