NASA has been surprised by a strange object seen on Mars after storms hit the planet. Either it is part of the Curiosity rover which has been broken off by violent winds or other speculations could be sparked. NASA have come up with a response.
When NASA saw images of this curious ‘foreign object’, scientists immediately tried to figure out where it came from. In 2012 a similar object was spotted and the team had the same fearful reaction. In the end however the object turned out to be just part of the probe that took Curiosity to Mars.
So that they could analyse the unusual object, the Curiosity rover took snapshots which researchers then analysed. They named the object Pettegrove Point Foreign Object Debris (PPFOD) while they waited for the analysis results.
Worried for the state of the Curiosity rover
Eventually the results of the analysis allowed the researchers to conclude that the Curiosity Rover was fully intact and had not lost a piece. Delighted with the results, the engineered believe the object which had worried them so much was nothing more than a shard of rock. Despite this reassuring news, NASA remain on guard for any changes that could happen to the Curiosity rover.
Since 2013, scientists have noted that the rovers wheels are becoming more worn than initially expected. Luckily, the Curiosity rover has six wheels which means it can navigate the landscape depending on the terrain it faces. Nevertheless in 2017 the grouser of one of the wheels was damaged. (Grousers are a type of groove found on the Curiosity’s wheels.) NASA remarked that if three grousers brake, the wheels durability would decrease by 60%.
The Curiosity rover was initially launched to study the geology of Mars to help understand how the planet formed and to discover if there was the possibility of living microbes on the red planet. For just now, the Curiosity rover is carrying out it’s mission as planned despite a few mishaps since it arrived on Mars on 6th August 2012.
Sources : NASA