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One of two wind sensors on NASA’s Curiosity damaged

Washington, August 22 (ANI): NASA has reported that a sensor on Mars rover Curiosity’s weather station that takes wind readings has sustained damage.

But the mission team stresses this is not a major problem and will merely degrade some measurements – not prevent them.

It is not certain how the damage occurred but engineers suspect surface stones thrown up during Curiosity’s rocket-powered landing may have struck sensor circuits and broken the wiring.

Javier Gomez-Elvira, the principal investigator on the broken instrumentation – the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) – said he was hopeful of finding a good way to get past the issue.

“We are working to recover as much functionality as possible,” he told reporters.

The REMS team first noticed there was something wrong when readings from the side-facing boom were being returned saturated at high and low values.

Further investigation suggested small wires exposed on the sensor circuits were open, probably severed. It is permanent damage.

Engineers believe that grit thrown on to the rover by the descent crane’s exhaust plume cut the small wires.

The wind sensor on the forward-facing mini-boom is unaffected. With just the one sensor, it makes it difficult to fully understand wind behaviour.

“It degrades our ability to detect wind speed and direction when the wind is blowing from a particular direction, but we think we can work around that,” said Curiosity’s deputy project scientist, Ashwin Vasavada.

All the other REMS measurements look good. (ANI)