How to Reduce Wear and Tear on Wheel Treads for the Curiosity Rover

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A close up of the Curiosity rover's wheels, showing holes and tears from traversing sharp rocks.
Space engineers at JPL have found a way to reduce wear and tear on Curiosity rover's wheels (image credit: NASA/JPL).

The Curiosity rover has been on Mars since 2012, and has contributed much to our understanding of the Martian environment in the past and present. In 2016, NASA performed a routine wheel examination to keep track of the wear and tear of the wheels. Cracks and holes are starting to appear in the gaps between the treads. After 5 years into this mission, it's not a surprise the wheels have started to wear, however, NASA wants to squeeze as much time out of them as possible. In March, they uploaded a new adaptive traction control program to the rover, which will adjust the individual wheel speeds as the rover climbs hills. Powered by a RTG, Curiosity has many years of service left on Mars, and anything to keep it roving will be tried.

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How to Reduce Wear and Tear on Wheel Treads for the Curiosity Rover
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

Jesse is a passionate scientist, educator, and science communicator. As an assistant professor at York University in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, he teaches three classes: History of Astronomy, Introduction to Astronomy, and Exploring the Solar System. He frequently collaborates with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and lends his expert voice to the Ingenium Channel. Jesse is an astrophysicist, and his research explores how super massive black holes evolve through time. Whether in the classroom, through social media, or on TV, he encourages conversations about how science and society intersect, and why science is relevant in our daily lives.