A fresh report from NASA Inspector General Paul Martin states that next Mars rover faces several serious technical and financial hurdles that must be resolved before it is ready for launch this fall.
According to the report, Mars rover's soil and rock sample gathering system has looming contamination issues, while two suites of software still encountering problems.
The rover, called Mars Science Laboratory, and nicknamed Curiosity, was originally slated to launch in late 2009, but was delayed repeatedly due to delay in the delivery of some essential components and instruments.
Curiosity is also facing financial hurdles. The unsettled technical issues and software issue may push the costs up by another $44 million. The mission has already seen increase of 56 per cent in costs, from $1.6 billion to $2.5 billion.
Curiosity, which is designed to drive long distances over rough Martian terrain to find any signs of past or present Martian life, is four times as heavy as its predecessors, viz. Spirit and Opportunity. It will make use of a new radioactive power system and a "sky-crane" system that will lower the rover on a rope from a hovercraft for landing.
Currently, the launch of Mars rover is slated for sometime between November 25 and December 18.
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