According to CNET, NASA’s Curiosity rover regularly checks its tire treads. Mars isn’t kind to the rover’s aluminum wheels, which have been heavily impacted by rocks since it began exploring Gale Crater in 2012.
Curiosity snapped some new photos of it in late January, which sparked discussions among some social media users about the state of the wheels and what it means for roaming capabilities. The good news: Curiosity is doing well. The image of the wheel that grabs the most attention is quite interesting. It shows multiple holes and broken lattice (raised tread), cracks and bent metal. The Curiosity team has previously implemented mitigations to extend the life of the wheels.
NASA JPL spokesman Andrew Good said Curiosity has been imaging its wheels every 500 meters (1,640 feet), but that distance has recently been extended to every 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), suggesting efforts to protect the wheels are on the way. went well. “The remaining mileage currently projected is expected to be sufficient to support Curiosity throughout the remainder of the mission,” Good said in an email.
Curiosity has six wheels, some looking better than others. NASA has learned a lot from its experience with older rovers. The newer Perseverance rover has a different wheel design with curved tread.
Curiosity isn’t slowing down. The rover is currently examining some intriguing rocks, and it sent back a fascinating selfie late last year. The team will continue to monitor the wheels, but considering it’s been rolling over rough terrain for nearly a decade, this robotic “explorer” is doing a great job.