22 Aug 2012

Nasa reporting first setback in Mars mission

10:12 pm on 22 August 2012

The United States space agency Nasa has reported its first setback in the Curiosity rover mission to Mars.

A sensor on the robot's weather station that takes wind readings has sustained damage, the BBC reports.

The mission team says it's not a major problem and will merely degrade some measurements - not prevent them.

Engineers suspect surface stones thrown up during Curiosity's rocket-powered landing may have struck sensor circuits and broken the wiring.

Nasa is describing the news as an isolated "disappointment" in what has otherwise been a spectacular start to the mission.

Curiosity - also known as the Mars Science Laboratory or MSL - touched down in the equatorial Gale Crater two weeks ago.

It will operate on Mars for at least two Earth years, looking for evidence that the planet may once have had the conditions suitable to host microbial life.