back to article NASA fix for Curiosity rovers's damaged drill: hitting it, repeatedly

NASA's top engineers think they've figured out a way to get the Curiosity rover's drill back to work holing the rock faces of Mars. Back in 2016 the nuclear-powered rover's rock-sampling drill broke down after a motor failed. As 225 million km (140 million miles) is too far to make an on-site visit, the men and women of NASA …

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What an odd way of putting it!

...Lest you think that the rover must have been shoddily built to last this long...

Normally, we think that something must have been shoddily built if it falls apart in a SHORT time. That drill lasted 5 years in a heavy sand climate, which is a lot better than the lifetime of the tools I usually buy. Things that last a LONG time are normally praised for solid, reliable craftsmanship*...

* Under new Activist guidelines, the word 'craftspersonship' should be substtuted here...

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Re: What an odd way of putting it!

The newer, new guidlines eschew the embedded "son" in "craftpersonship". The new acceptable substitution is 'craftspersiblingship'.

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Happy

Re: What an odd way of putting it!

I see your craftspersiblingship,

and raise you a craftspersiblingboatymcboatface'

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Re: What an odd way of putting it!

Craftsperoffspringship, surely?

Although I don’t think of the ‘man’ in ‘craftsman’ as being a gender signifier - a woman, as the female gender of the species man, is just as likely to be a craftsman as any male is.

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Re: What an odd way of putting it!

"Although I don’t think of the ‘man’ in ‘craftsman’ as being a gender signifier..."

You might not, but Dr. Simona Sharoni probably would.

Sidenote: I wonder if ultrafeminists like Dr. Sharoni ever stop to consider that their near universal offence-taking actually does far more damage to the feminist cause than the alleged 'offences' they so vehemently protest about.

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Re: What an odd way of putting it!

@ hplasm: Gender-unspecific tea refill and asexual mopping of keyboard required

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Anonymous Coward

Re: but Dr. Simona Sharoni probably would.

For those interested, Dr. Simona Sharoni has her own website where you can read some of her work. I particularly recommend sec 3.2 (pdf's p9) of this:)

https://www.simonasharoni.com/app/download/4879018/de-militarizingmasculinities.pdf

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Boffin

Re: What an odd way of putting it!

I like "crafts'manship". Using the apostrophe to denote the dropped 'hu' from human.

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Re: What an odd way of putting it!

My dear sir,

This term is offensive to the many faceless members of society.

May I humbly suggest: craftspersiblingboatymcboatnymous

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Re: What an odd way of putting it!

"...craftspersiblingboatymcboatnymous"

I have a traumatised bicycle here that wishes to file a complaint alleging that your naming convention is discriminatory, by implying that boats are in some way superior to other modes of transport.

Please change this name forthwith in all literature to Craftspersiblingvehiclemcvehiclenymous.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: but Dr. Simona Sharoni probably would.

Oy vey!

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Anonymous Coward

There is nothing like:

Percussive maintenance by the impact adjustment tool to sort out most mechanical and electrical problems.

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Re: There is nothing like:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/13/bofh_2006_episode_2/

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Wetware

Also works on most wetware. Especially high-pitched whines - seems to make them stop.

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Re: There is nothing like:

Ta, needed the laugh on this Friday :)

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DJV
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Re: There is nothing like:

So, basically, they just re-invented the hammer drill!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is nothing like:

"Percussive maintenance by the impact adjustment tool to sort out most mechanical and electrical problems."

Hopefully the next robot will have an on-board supply of gaffer tape.

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Happy

Re: There is nothing like:

Not just gaffer tape. As any fule kno, approved NASA repair equipment should include, a cardboard flightplan cover, some tape, some bags and an old sock.

Just think how much easier and less stressful the Apollo 13 flight would have been if they'd just said, "Houston... We have a hammer."

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Re: There is nothing like:

Proper engineering: Gaffer tape, WD 40, Percussive Maintenance.

None *should* be needed, but any, all, or either of the three are the true solution to Murphy.

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Re: There is nothing like:

Hopefully the next robot will have an on-board supply of gaffer tape.

As anyone who has done any motorsport will tell you, you need two things in the emergency tool kit:

Gaffer tape - for when it moves and shouldn't.

WD40 - for when it should move and doesn't.

Lets send the next one properly prepared.

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Re: There is nothing like:

All y'all forgot two vital bits of maintenance gear: Bailing wire and chewing gum.

Bailing wire in both the metal and the polypro versions come in handy in so many places that trying to list them all here would be a fool's errand.

There is no commercial product that seals small leaks in most liquid fuel tanks better than chewing gum.

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It is nice to see that even NASA use a brummy screwdriver on the odd occasion.

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"Brummy screwdriver"

Or as the Brummies would call it, a West Bromwich Screwdriver.

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ALL good engineers can be distinguished by their extensive collection of purpose built hammers.

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I was taught a long time ago that the difference between a fitter and an engineer is that the fitter thinks a hammer will probably fix it... an engineer knows exactly what and where to hit, how hard to hit and the correct weight of hammer to hit it with.

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There was a story years back about a big old diesel engine that wouldn't start. The engineer was called, wandered around for 10 minutes then gave it a tap with a hammer; upon which it started right up. A few days later the engine owner received an invoice for $10,000. Fuming, he called the maintenance company; "10 grand to hit it with a hammer?" The maintenance company replied "It's $2 for hitting it with a hammer, and $9,998 for knowing where to hit."

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The proverbial television repairman.

I'm not charging you for thumping your telly with a screwdriver. I'm charging you for knowing where and how hard to thump your telly, and for showing up to do it.

For the big old diesel: Tap on the starter solenoid (or the solenoid for the pony motor, if so equipped) while attempting to crank it over. I've won a lot of money firing up "dead" boat engines with this little trick.

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I don't use the word "Hammer". I prefer "Kinetic adjustment tool" or "Kinetic adjuster" for short.

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Re: The proverbial television repairman.

Same trick on my old half-timbered Morris. If the motor dies, thump the fuel pump to jar the sticking contacts loose.

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Devil

Quote

ALL good engineers can be distinguished by their extensive collection of purpose built hammers.

And you're not a real engineer until you have one labeled "Apprentice improvement stick"

Boris

<<currently wanting to 'improve' his apprentice after the dumb s*** did'nt follow the power lockout rules...

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Boffin

Kinetic adjuster?

Kinetic energy transfer mechanism.

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Fuming, he called the maintenance company; "10 grand to hit it with a hammer?" The maintenance company replied "It's $2 for hitting it with a hammer, and $9,998 for knowing where to hit."

Last time I heard that it was a computer engineer flown out at great expense, same basic punchline but also chalked an X on the cabinet so the next guy could do it without the expensive training.

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I’m presuming the original story is apocryphal, but am also absolutely certain it’s a conversation which has been had many times, in many places and many industries through the years.

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Big Bad Buggy broken borer brought back by bashing boulder before boring big bedrock bits.

(not quite as good as my previous work.. it is very early...)

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"As 225 million km (140 million miles) is too far to make an on-site visit..."

If you wanted it badly enough, you could do it.

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But it's the 45p per mile that would break the budget.

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You fool! Don't you know that it's tax deductible?!

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Anonymous Coward

Lazy engineers

"As 225 million km (140 million miles) is too far to make an on-site visit..." - lousy excuse.

In my experience I find that many engineers prefer to try and fix things remotely rather than actually going to look at the problem.

I suspect it is for many reasons but I'll let them off on this one....

(fellow engineer - I'm allowed to say this)

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Hammering on drill bits ...

... is usually contra-indicated.

Unless, of course, the bit is designed for it. Seeing as Curiosity wasn't equipped with a hammer-drill, chances are the thing isn't so designed. One wonders how long the tool will be able to handle the abuse.

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Re: One wonders how long the tool will be able to handle the abuse.

Unless there is a better way of getting some use out of it, I suppose it doesn't matter about the "misuse". Since it no longer works as intended, and can't be fixed, any new data at this point are a bonus...

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Re: One wonders how long the tool will be able to handle the abuse.

Unless it shatters and buggers up something important. Like the charging system. Razor sharp bits of metal can play merry hell with wiring.

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Re: One wonders how long the tool will be able to handle the abuse.

Which is presumably why they've trialled it on the testbed rover first, although it doesn't state that explicitly in the article.

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Happy

Like I always say

gonna need a bigger hammer...

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NASA engineers are great at exceeding expectations.

Must be fans of Montgomery Scott then :)

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Headmaster

My thoughts exactly, as an argent follower of it myself :) Very much the Scotty Principle in action.

For those who don't know what we're talking about -

https://youtu.be/t9SVhg6ZENw

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Happy

Ahh - the 'hit it with a big hammer' approach to sensitive hardware

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Anonymous Coward

If it doubt...

...give it a clout.

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If, at first, you don't succeed

Use a bigger hammer

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Technical term

The technical term for this operation is shock modulation. Much preferred to hitting, whacking, or banging.

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Re: Technical term

Also known as Impact Engineering

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