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

As a passionate science communicator, Jesse Rogerson loves promoting science literacy to the public. He frequently represents the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on television and radio, social media, and at conferences. A trained and practicing astrophysicist, Jesse holds a PhD in observational astrophysics from York University, and publishes his research in peer-reviewed journals. Jesse enjoys riding his motorcycle, board games, and ultimate frisbee.