Is Something Wrong With the Drill on MSL? (Update)

Keith's 18 Nov 12:25 pm EST update: NASA PAO just provided the following response: "The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, including the Curiosity rover and the rock-sampling drill on the rover, has passed all functional testing, and final preparations for launch on Nov. 25 are on schedule. Testing indicates that the rover can meet all of its mission success criteria. Experiments continue on engineering models of the rover's sampling system, including the hammering drill, to refine understanding of the best ways to use the system once Curiosity is on Mars. Continued testing on Earth will study which aspects of the drill performance will degrade during the mission and how to exercise operational workarounds. An example is that the percussion mechanism in the rotary-percussion drill can develop electrical shorts after prolonged use (beyond that required for mission success). The drill will be used in rotary-only mode on some rocks to prolong availability of hammering. The potential also exists for material to come off the drill bit as it wears and to complicate analysis of the powdered sample. In both cases, workarounds exist including the use of rotary-only drilling, replacing the bit, and using the scoop to provide soil samples directly to the analytic laboratory."

Earlier posts below.

Keith's 16 Nov 6:56 pm EST note: This short comment was posted by NASA ARC's Brian Glass (someone who works on various space mission drilling projects) on this entry on his publicly available personal Live Journal page: "How can I focus on ways to fix the MSL drill, now on the launch pad.". I have requests in to NASA and toBrian Glass to clarify this statement. Assuming that this statement refers to an actual issue with the MSL drill, the basic question is: what is it that Brian Glass has to "fix"? Is this a software patch that will be uplodaded while MSL is en route to Mars? The mission was already delayed for several years for a variety of technical problems. As such, an obvious question is: why is there still an outstanding issue like this? Again, this assumes that this statement is accurate.

Keith's 16 Nov 8:30 pm EST update: The web link in question now requires that you login to LiveJournal - but the rest of his Live Journal page is public. This is what was online (image) - with all of the personal stuff blurred out. The question to NASA's Brian Glass remains: what is it you have to "fix" on the MSL drill?

Keith's 16 Nov 9:00 pm EST update: According to Brian Glass: "Poetic license in a personal journal post that was never meant to be public. I'm not currently working on anything MSL-related. The page has been made private for obvious reasons. Others would have to comment about that particular drill. Sorry, Keith..." So, either Brian Glass just made this all up - or there is indeed an issue with the MSL drill and he is not willing to talk about it.

Keith's 17 Nov 7:00 pm EST update: I got a short note from NASA PAO that they are working on a response to my inquiries but that it will be tomorrow before I hear anything from them.

Keith's 18 Nov 11:00 am EST update: Still no response from NASA PAO. It only takes a moment to say "there is no problem with the MSL drill". I guess it takes more time to craft a story that explains what problem(s) the drill has. Stay tuned.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 18, 2011 12:25 PM.

Frank Wolf's Sinophobia Manifests Itself at OSTP was the previous entry in this blog.

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