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Engineers now suspect that a piece of debris inside Curiosity’s drill might be the cause of the recent intermittent problems with the drill’s feed motor, the equipment that extends the drill for drilling.
Experts believe they found a pattern in the way the drill feed motor behaves over time, Eriskson said, and the pattern observed so far matches what engineers would expect to see if a piece of foreign object debris, or FOD, was embedded somewhere inside the drill.
Erickson said the ground team is not sure of the source of the potential debris. It could be a piece of Martian soil or a pebble that somehow got into the mechanism and is gumming up the drill feed motor, or it might be something carried from Earth. “It some sense, it probably doesn’t matter,” Erickson said, detailing how engineers are focused, for now, on recovering use of the drill, one of the rover’s primary tools.