December 13, 2005

Engineers Fix Robotic Arm on Mars Rover

PASADENA, Calif. -- Two weeks after rover Opportunity's robotic arm failed to extend, engineers traced the problem to a stalled motor and fixed it.

The mishap happened Nov. 25 when Opportunity tried to unstow its arm to examine a layered outcrop in the Martian plains. But the arm, which carries four tools to chip at rocks and soil, failed to deploy because of a jammed shoulder-joint motor.

Engineers zapped current to the motor and it finally moved this week, Jim Erickson, project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said Tuesday.

Engineers planned to keep the rover's arm extended while it undergoes more tests.

Opportunity and its twin rover Spirit landed on opposite ends of Mars in January 2004. They long ago surpassed their three-month mission.


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