Mars Rovers Hit Snag: Some Disassembly Required

A potential problem has cropped up in readying the two Mars Exploration Rovers for sendoff to the red planet. A May 30 launch date for the first rover has been slipped until no earlier than June 6. According to a NASA statement, the concern regards cabling that connects the spacecraft’s main computer, which is inside each rover, to peripherals in the cruise stage, lander and small deep space transponder. The connection to the cruise stage is severed during approach to Mars and the connection to the lander is severed before the rover drives off. Pre-launch testing revealed a potential problem in how the spacecraft interprets signals sent when the cables are severed.