NASA’S Curiosity rover has frozen stuck on Mars.
The space vehicle celebrated its seventh anniversary on the Red Planet last August but its operating team has confirmed that it recently lost all orientation.
Curiosity team member Dawn Sumner wrote in a Nasa blog post: “Some knowledge of its attitude was not quite right, so it couldn’t make the essential safety evaluation.
“Thus, Curiosity stopped moving, freezing in place until its knowledge of its orientation can be recovered.
“Curiosity stores its body attitude in memory, things like the orientation of each joint, which instrument on the end of its arm is pointing down, and how close [Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer] is to the ground.”
However, this doesn’t spell the end for Curiosity as the team are planning to bring in back to life.
Sumner continued: “We want Curiosity to recover its ability to make its safety checks, and we also want to know if there is anything we can do to prevent a similar problem in the future.”
Curiosity is helping the team try and fix the problem by continuing to send information back to Earth.
The rover is said to have a few more years left before its nuclear power system degrades.
When this happens the kind of operations it will be able to perform will be significantly limited.
Nasa is hoping that Curiosity will be able to provide as much information as possible about the Red Planet before the launch of the Mars 2020 rover mission.
The space agency will be launching that mission on July 17.
The new rover will joining Curiosity and the now-deceased Opportunity rover on the planet.
It is expected to reach the Marian surface on February 18, 2012,
The aim of the mission is to look for any fossilised evidence of alien life, as well as some other tasks.
Curiosity has made many interesting discoveries during its time on Mars.
It detected oxygen that behaves in an unusual way back in 2019 and also found a bizarrely high level of methane.
Nasa has a long-term goal of sending a manned-mission to Mars by 2030.
Here’s what you need to know about the red planet…
- Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun
- It is named after the Roman god of war
- The landmass of Mars is very similar to Earth but due to the difference in gravity you could jump three times higher there than you can here
- Mars is mountainous and hosts the tallest mountain known in the Solar System called Olympus Mons, which is three times higher than Everest
- Mars is considered to be the second most habitable planet after Earth
- It takes the planet 687 Earth days to orbit the Sun
- So far, there has been 39 missions to Mars but only 16 of these have been successful
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Do you think there’s life on Mars? Let us know in the comments…
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