Curiosity Rover Report (August 5, 2016): Four Years on MarsNASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Published on Aug 4, 2016After four years on Mars, Curiosity rover and her operations team are now seasoned explorers, anxious to climb to greater heights on Mount Sharp.
News from Gale Crater: Recent findings from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Tuesday, 13 December11:30 a.m.NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover continues to investigate higher and younger strata on the central mountain of Gale Crater, adding information about water-rich ancient environments in this part of Mars. Since reaching the base of the mountain two years ago, the rover has examined more than half the vertical extent of a 180-meter-thick geological formation that provides a record of long-lived lake and groundwater environments. Analysis of rock composition at multiple sites is providing new evidence about how the environmental conditions evolved over time, including factors favorable for life, if it ever was present. Some ingredients may foreshadow what the mission will find at planned destinations farther up the mountain.Participants:Joy Crisp, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, U.S.A.;Thomas Bristow, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, U.S.A.;Patrick Gasda, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, U.S.A.;John Grotzinger, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, U.S.A.Sessions: P21D, P23B
Looks like the arm is acting up.http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/13/505466073/curiosity-rover-encounters-technical-difficulties-on-martian-mountain
Curiosity is at a site on lower Mount Sharp selected for what would be the mission's seventh sample-collection drilling of 2016. The rover team learned Dec. 1 that Curiosity did not complete the commands for drilling. The rover detected a fault in an early step in which the "drill feed" mechanism did not extend the drill to touch the rock target with the bit."We are in the process of defining a set of diagnostic tests to carefully assess the drill feed mechanism. We are using our test rover here on Earth to try out these tests before we run them on Mars," Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Steven Lee, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said Monday. "To be cautious, until we run the tests on Curiosity, we want to restrict any dynamic changes that could affect the diagnosis. That means not moving the arm and not driving, which could shake it."
Use of the arm and driving remain off limits while the drill continues to be diagnosed.
Engineers suspect a piece of foreign object debris may be intermittently stalling a motor needed to place the Curiosity Mars rover’s drill bit onto rocks, and the robot’s ground team is assessing the source of the potential contamination.More importantly, Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson said, engineers are spending the holidays crunching data from a series of diagnostic tests conducted in recent weeks to analyze the drill’s behavior and determine a possible fix.
Ground controllers believe the drill problem is rooted in a brake on the drill feed mechanism, which is supposed to extend and place the drill bit on the surface of target rocks.When Curiosity goes in to drill into Martian rocks, the rover extends its robotic arm and two prongs on each side of the drill bit press against the target. The drill feed motor then engages to push the bit onto the rock, then percussive and rotating mechanisms start boring into the target to collect a powder sample.Erickson told Spaceflight Now that the drill problem, first encountered Dec. 1, has cropped up off and on, but ground controllers have only commanded the motor to move in tiny increments in their testing.Rover drivers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have also sent Curiosity on short trips and activated shakers inside the drill to test the feed motor’s response to motion, Erickson told Spaceflight Now in JPL’s “Mars yard” facility where engineers test out rover models in simulated Martian terrain.The shakers are normally used to sort the powder sample acquired by the drill.Experts believe they found a pattern in the way the drill feed motor behaves over time, Eriskson said, and the pattern observed so far matches what engineers would expect to see if a piece of foreign object debris, or FOD, was embedded somewhere inside the drill.
He described a “fishbone” diagram used by the investigation team, with arrows splitting off pointing to FOD of terrestrial and Martian origin. Then there’s another split in the fishbone, Erickson said, illustrating two more possibilities, assuming the contamination came from Earth.“Was it something that the rover carried from Earth from before the launch, or was it generated after the launch?” Erickson asked.Parts inside the drill may have rubbed together over the last four years since Curiosity’s landing on Mars in August 2012, creating shavings or fragments that are lodged inside the feed motor.If operating the drill on Mars somehow created the FOD, engineers might be able to change the way they use the instrument, and improve the design of future drills, such as the device in development to fly on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, a spacecraft largely based on Curiosity’s design and chassis.Erickson said the rover team is still examining how to resume drilling with Curiosity, and it is too early to declare that engineers can fully correct the problem, or that the issue will prevent future drillings.It may turn out that the stalled motor remains intermittent, he said, making it a nuisance for ground controllers commanding the rover, but not fatal for the future of the drill.
Why no large stony meteorites have yet to be been found on Mars is puzzling. They should be far more common; like irons, stonies would also display beautiful thumprinting and dark fusion crust to boot. Maybe they simply blend in too well with all the other rocks littering the Martian landscape. Or perhaps they erode more quickly on Mars than the metal variety.Every time a meteorite turns up on Mars in images taken by the rovers, I get a kick out of how our planet and the Red One not only share water, ice and wind but also getting whacked by space rocks.
This is rather curious considering how rare they are on Earth that it keeps coming across metallic meteorites on Mars.
Quote from: Star One on 01/16/2017 05:04 PMThis is rather curious considering how rare they are on Earth that it keeps coming across metallic meteorites on Mars.Not really surprising. On Earth they rust quite quickly, on Mars they don't. Processes of erosion and deposition are also generally slower. Iron meteorites look very different to martian rocks (or for that matter stony meteorites on the surface) and so stand out.Mars has less atmosphere and objects would hit the ground faster. Would stony meteorites disintegrate under these conditions?John
Quote from: Dalhousie on 01/16/2017 08:45 PMQuote from: Star One on 01/16/2017 05:04 PMThis is rather curious considering how rare they are on Earth that it keeps coming across metallic meteorites on Mars.Not really surprising. On Earth they rust quite quickly, on Mars they don't. Processes of erosion and deposition are also generally slower. Iron meteorites look very different to martian rocks (or for that matter stony meteorites on the surface) and so stand out.Mars has less atmosphere and objects would hit the ground faster. Would stony meteorites disintegrate under these conditions?JohnThey might fragment a bit more, being less tenacious than irons. But stony meteorites are just mafic to ultramafic rocks, unless they were very different from the substrate without a close examination.While probably impact ejecta rather than a meteorite, Bounce rock encountered by Oppotunityearly in the mission is an example of a rock that stood out from the surrounds.
Curiosity update, sols 1548-1599: Serious drill brake problem as Curiosity drives through Murray red bedsPosted By Emily Lakdawalla
View from NASA's @MarsCuriosity rover on Feb. 20, 2017 (Sol 1615) #Mars