Planets

The Mars Rover Curiosity's robotic arm in the position in which was blocked after the short circuit suffered on February 27, 2015 (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA has confirmed that the Mars Rover Curiosity has returned to work after the problem due to a transient short circuit that happened in late February that convinced mission control to halt its activity. In particular, the robotic arm that that was blocked was finally able to deposit the sample of pulverized rock within Curiosity to proceed to its analysis.

The Mars Rover Curiosity’s protection system blocked its activity on February 27, or sol – Martian day – 911 of its mission. NASA’s Curiosity team left it stationary to avoid the risk that the problem gets aggravated while it was diagnosed.

NASA confirmed that its space probe Dawn regularly entered the dwarf planet Ceres’ orbit. It was at an altitude of about 61,000 kilometers (about 38,000 miles) when it was captured by the Ceres’ gravity. This happened yesterday but Dawn was on the hidden side of the dwarf planet when it entered its orbit. The consequence is that it took a bit before the probe reached a position where it could transmit data to Earth.

Picture taken by the Mars Rover Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) during a drill at Telegraph Peak (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The Mars Rover Curiosity’s activity was temporarily stopped due to an electrical anomaly that happened on February 27, 2015. During the transfer of dust samples just taken from a drill using the robotic arm, the fault protection system was triggered. The telemetry data sent by Curiosity indicated that there was a short circuit and for this reason its activity was stopped.

Picture of the dwarf planet Ceres taken by the Dawn space probe (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

NASA’s space probe Dawn continues its approach to the dwarf planet Ceres. This allows to send on Earth better and better photographs with greater details of its surface. The previous images were clear enough to make it possible to see some light-colored areas and in particular a really bright one, which had puzzled scientists. A photo taken on February 19 at a distance of about 46,000 km (about 29,000 miles) shows a second bright area close to the one already identified.

The MAVEN space probe during its test phase at Kennedy Space Center (Photo NASA/Jim Grossmann)

NASA’s MAVEN space probe successfully completed the first of five deep-dip maneuvers into the depths of Mars atmosphere. The purpose was to gather measurements closer to the lower limit of the upper layer of the red planet’s atmosphere. The periapsis, which is the lowest altitude point of the orbit, reached by MAVEN was 125 kilometers (78 miles).

The purpose of the space probe MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution), which reached the orbit of Mars on September 21, 2014, is precisely to study the red planet’s atmosphere. It’s much thinner than Earth’s one but is still a complex system. To understand its dynamics and its evolution over time, MAVEN is making continuous measurements and during the month started plunging into its depths.