NASA Says Mars Rover Curiosity Temporarily Idled by Short Circuit

 / Updated  / Source: Associated Press

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PASADENA, Calif. — NASA's Curiosity rover has temporarily stopped work on Mars while engineers investigate a transient short circuit. The space agency said Tuesday that the electrical problem was discovered over the weekend as Curiosity tried to transfer bits of powder from a rock that it had drilled into. The short circuit stopped the rover's robotic arm.

"We are running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration before we move the arm or drive," said Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "This gives us the best opportunity to determine where the short is."

The testing is expected to take several days. NASA said that in some of the electrical systems, a transient short would have little effect on rover operations — while in others, it could prompt the rover team to restrict use of a mechanism.

Curiosity landed in a Martian crater in 2012. Since then, it has uncovered geologic evidence of an environment that could have supported microbial life early in the planet's history.

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— Associated Press and NBC News staff

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