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Initial signs of wear in NASA’s Curiosity rover

Initial signs of wear in NASA's Curiosity rover

NASA’s rover ‘Curiosity’ was sent to Mars about 4.5 years ago. The primary purpose of the mission is to explore the Gale Crater on the planet. However, the rocky red planet has started to show its superiority over the human-made rover by NASA. One of the six wheels of it has begun to show initial signs of wear and tear. The US wheel agency detected this on March 19 during the routine inspection.

Reason behind the damage in the wheels of the Curiosity rover

The wheels are made using super solid aluminum, and there is a total of 6 wheels. Each wheel is 16 inches wide and 20 inches in diameter. NASA calls the tread pattern on Curiosity as Grousers. These treads allow the rover to balance about 1000 kilograms of weight. The left middle wheel has begun to show some dents and holes at its treads.

The primary reason behind the damage is a result of fatigue. For example, if a paper clip is repeatedly bent back and forth it finally snaps. Mars is a planet with rocky terrain and has no sand. Regular exposure of the skin of the wheels to the harsh terrain and pointy rocks could be one of the main reasons.

Further expeditions and Science plans

Jim Erickson, the Curiosity project manager, has said that there is no need to worry about the breaks observed. He added saying that ground-based tests suggest that the wheel reaches its sixty percent lifespan when three grousers break. Until now only two treads have broken.

Despite the wear and tear all the other five wheels including the sixth one have enough lifespan to continue with all the planned missions. The project scientist Ashwin Vasavada confirmed saying that the breaks in the wheels are as expected and that there is nothing to worry. The rover is currently exploring Mount Sharp region located in the Gale crater. It is in the Murray formation and is studying the rock layers for climate records.

Notable Discoveries

The human-made car-sized robotic rover has been assessing the Martian radiation for very long enough. This helped the scientists determine the threats which the planet may have posed to its indigenous microbes. The rover also discovered an ancient streambed that has flowed thousands of years ago.

 

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