Curiosity Rover’s Wheels are Showing Further Damage
Ron Perillo / 7 years ago
NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in 2012 and has since trekked along the Martian surface exploring. Mars’ terrain can be unforgiving so a certain amount of wear and tear is expected, even if the Curiosity rover’s odometer only clocked a total of 16 kilometers total travel distance. Recent photos from NASA now reveal that it has suffered further damage along its left middle wheel.
Each of Curiosity’s wheel was machined from a single piece of aluminum. It measures 50cm in diameter and 40cm wide with treads (called grousers) that protrude 7.5mm from the wheel skin and spaced 15 degrees apart. Some of the ‘selfies’ taken by Curiosity show damage to two of these grousers.
Initial damage to the wheel surface was visible back in 2014 when Curiosity performed a series of short drives followed by MAHLI imaging of each of the wheels to survey their condition. Although the skins showed some punctures, the grousers remained intact.
Damage to the grousers can mean trouble if it loses a significant amount of it. According to NASA, losing three grousers means that it has about 40% of its life left before completely giving out. Thankfully, Curiosity has completed 60% of its overall mission already so signs are positive that it will be able to complete it before the wheels fail completely.