NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Is Showing Its Age, but That’s Not All Bad

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Curiosity is showing its age. NASA’s car-sized Mars rover has been successfully roaming the surface of the red planet for almost five years now, but a recent check of its six wheels shows that one has breaks in its zigzag treads.

NASA says the damage — which it blames on rough terrain — won’t keep Curiosity from completing its mission. And it could even give the space agency valuable clues about how to hone the design of an upcoming rover.

“The project that is developing NASA’s next Mars rover, for launch in 2020, had made changes to wheel design,” says Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson. “And the new design has demonstrated much longer wheel lifespan in long-distance driving tests.”


Two small breaks on the Curiosity rover’s left middle wheel were discovered during a routine check, using the Mars Hand Lens Imager camera. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory



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