By EXN Staff
After a seemingly perfect start to Pathfinder's introduction on the red planet, a couple of technical glitches now hamper the mission. Late Friday it became apparent that a communications bug had found its way into the system that commands and controls the roving Sojourner. If the problems continue to plague the communications system, Rover may not be able to do much exploring at all.
"The great galactic ghoul had to get us somewhere and apparently the ghoul has decided to pick on the rover", said Donna Shirley, Pathfinder programme manager.
NASA officials now suggest that it may be Saturday night before they know if the problems can be rectified. The Sojourner rover was to ramp off the Pathfinder spacecraft onto the Martian surface and conduct crucial exploratory work gathering information about rocks and soils on the surface.
This latest glitch comes on the heels of another problem that NASA scientists detected last night: one of the airbags that cushioned Pathfinder as it bounced onto the Martian surface failed to retract properly and stopped one of the craft's petals from opening up. Consequently, the microwave oven sized rover was trapped. After much tinkering from more than 190 million kilometers away, scientists cleared one of two paths Sojourner will need to get off the craft and begin work. Communication commands from Pathfinder to the rover however, remain.
Rover manager Jacob Matijevic is confident the glitch will be managed. "We have confidence we'll be able to find a way to fix and resolve this problem," he mentioned at a news conference.