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
NASA JPL
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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. He co-developed a science communication workshop for Canadian science professionals, to instruct them in more effective methods of communicating their science. A trained and practicing astrophysicist, Jesse holds a PhD in observational astrophysics from York University, and recently published a peer-reviewed paper in The Astrophysical Journal. Jesse enjoys riding his motorcycle, board games, and ultimate frisbee.