Mars rover not expected to be affected by NASA's suspension of Russia ties

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NASA officials said Monday the decision to sever most ties with Russia shouldn't affect the Mars Curiosity mission.

This comes despite the fact that the rover carries an instrument used by Russian scientists and paid for by the Russian government.

Related: NASA cuts ties with Russia except on space station

The instrument is a spectrometer called Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons, or DAN. The device sends a beam of neutrons into soil to detect water and is sensitive enough to pick up traces as low as one-tenth of 1 percent.

Last week, NASA announced it would stop working with Russia's Federal Space Agency due to tensions over Crimea. The one exception noted at the time was the International Space Station, which is currently home to three Russians and two Americans.

When asked about Curiosity and the DAN instrument, Bob Jacobs, NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications, said, "We do not expect any science activities related to the Curiosity mission to be impacted."

Related: Mars rover funding is once again in jeopardy

Jacobs also said DAN's principle scientist, Igor Mitrofanov from the Space Research Institute of Russia, would still receive data from the project.

NASA has yet to release a full list of which projects, if any, will be affected by the decision to cut ties with Russia.

In a leaked memo released last week, NASA officials said, "The U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted."

Jacobs clarified later to KPCC that the guidance deals largely with "official members of the Russian government, specifically members of the Russian Federation."

One mission still in question is a proposed collaboration between NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency called Venera-D. It's a probe that would be sent to Venus, possibly in 2024.

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