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Mars NASA Transportation

Rough Roving: Curiosity's Wheel Damage 'Accelerated' 157

Posted by timothy
from the when-it-rains-it-pours dept.
astroengine writes "Despite the assurances that the holes seen in Mars rover Curiosity's wheels were just a part of the mission, there seems to be increasing concern for the wheels' worsening condition after the one-ton robot rolled over some craggy terrain. In an upcoming drive, rover drivers will monitor the six wheels over some smooth terrain to assess their condition. "We want to take a full inventory of the condition of the wheels," said Jim Erickson, project manager for the NASA Mars Science Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 'Dents and holes were anticipated, but the amount of wear appears to have accelerated in the past month or so.' Although the wheels are designed to sustain significant damage without impairing driving activities, the monitoring of the situation is essential for future planning."
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Rough Roving: Curiosity's Wheel Damage 'Accelerated'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 20, 2013 @10:41PM (#45751245)

    Dear Lord, Father in Heaven, we pray together for the safekeeping of Rover Curiosity's wheels. Although it may be a tool of science, and its discoveries a complete threat to religious doctrine everywhere, she is but a rover on a mission of Peace and Goodness. In your ever forgiving heart, please bless her wheels with durability and robustness.

    Amen.

    • by Sam36 (1065410)
      I don't see how what He made is a threat.

      And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. --Colossians 1:17
      • In this age, whatever failure the other parties has met with is the lesson that one picks up.

        The lesson whereby the failure of Nasa to better equip the Curiosity's wheels against abrasion / wear and tear may mean that the only country left on this world that has the will and the financial might to forge ahead with their space aspiration (China) surely benefit.

        I bet if they are to send up any more space equipment (rover, dune buggy or whatever) they will put more emphasis on the parts that might face the iss

        • "I bet if they are to send up any more space equipment (rover, dune buggy or whatever) they will put more emphasis on the parts that might face the issue of wear and tear / abrasion / friction."

          I have to wonder: who chose aluminum as the material for the wheels in the first place? I'm not a mechanical engineer but just off the cuff that strikes me as a remarkably bad choice.

          Aluminum has little resilience. If it strikes something hard (especially something hard and pointy) it's going to bend, and not rebound. This is pretty much a given. Make it thin enough to be lightweight and it's also going to puncture or break.

          It sure seems like a gross waste of resources to give it a long-life nuclear p

          • by RockDoctor (15477)

            Aluminum has little resilience.

            That's like saying that "all beer tastes like piss", or "all food tastes like shit." There is a huge variety of grades and strengths of aluminium and aluminium alloys. Some are, as you say, quite brittle ; some are tremendously strong and have high (and very well understood) fatigue lives (I'm thinking particularly of aircraft skin alloys ; I'm sure there are others.

            I'm not a materials scientist, but a practical geologist. Every year I see the stunned look on drilling enginee

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Where in the hell did this "NASA is dead" meme start? It keeps popping up every few years. Yeah, it's underfunded. Have you written your elected officials? They're the only ones who can do anything.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        May I be allowed to get back on topic? NASA's website doesn't have the "OH, SHIT!!" factor. [nasa.gov]

        "We want to take a full inventory of the condition of the wheels," Erickson said. "Dents and holes were anticipated, but the amount of wear appears to have accelerated in the past month or so. It appears to be correlated with driving over rougher terrain. The wheels can sustain significant damage without impairing the rover's ability to drive. However, we would like to understand the impact that this terrain type has

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      Who are you talking to?

      You know, talking to yourself may be a symptom of an underlying disorder. Have you talked with your psychiatrist lately?

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        It seems there is a moderator lacking a sense of humor, I thought it was funny.

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          Don't worry about it, anyone can get mod points. There's no sense of humor test in there at all. Well, except on Slashdot's part where they're giving me 15 mod points at a time now. :)

          Some people get really bent over their invisible friends, so even if they had a sense of humor, they lose it entirely. As long as they don't insult Gozer, I think we'll be ok.

    • by enzo1 (931050)
      It is not remotely a threat to religious doctrine because it will never find life.
    • Amen.

      B.women.
      C.other.

      • That joke doesn't work if you pronounce Amen correctly.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          That joke doesn't work if you pronounce Amen correctly.

          Not all of us are from Bahston. Potato, potahto, fuck off, snob.

          • It's Latin. You don't get to use English pronunciation with it.

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              It's only Latin if it comes at the end of a sentence spoken in Latin. Likewise, "cough" is an English word unless it's in a sentence spoken in German.

              • by loufoque (1400831)

                Cough isn't even a word in German...
                Amen is a Latin word, and not an English word of Latin origin. While pronouncing it the English way is accepted by laymen, it's not the proper pronunciation. Amen is a word which is used in many different languages too.

                • by mcgrew (92797) *

                  Amen is a word which is used in many different languages too.

                  Exactly my point. In Spanish it would be pronounced "ah main", since the A is always "ah" and the E is always "A". Pronounced like that it's a Spanish word.

  • "Monitoring of the situation is essential for future planning."

    As A poor young man driving a $500 '73 Ford Pickup, I remember carefully monitoring oil consumption, water level, and tread wear on the five dollar maypops I could afford to put on my baby's feet.

    It is common knowledge that NASA has one initial too many for the Brobdingnagian budget, but I was poor as two Mongolian goat herders.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      So, were you driving that truck on Mars?

      • heh heh... If i was, and it was on or around the time of the previous post, it probably wasn't a tire failure. We were going downhill too fast on the backside of Ballmer Peak.
  • ...the monitoring of the situation is essential for future planning

    They mean when the rover is near it's death, they pause it, and send more rovers. After they get like 8 up there, they'll fight them, like on BattleBots. You know, get Mars ready for humans and their wars.

    ...the monitoring of the situation is essential for future planning

    We all know that those rovers are up there cutting up large rocks and stacking them into pyramidal shapes that regulate the atmosphere in preparation for humans to arrive, only to try to cover up the pyramid's real identity so that the future race of beings don't know their real history.

    ...the monitoring of the situation is essential for future planning

    obligatory fu [xkcd.com]

    • As part of planning to send people to the other planets, I am surprised that they do not try to figure out a way to get something back from the landers. I would think that seeing how the materials held up to the conditions it went through would be important data to have.

      • I think it'll be interesting to see what happens to a human once they leave the magnetic environment of their home planet.
        • by Carnildo (712617)

          I think it'll be interesting to see what happens to a human once they leave the magnetic environment of their home planet.

          Nothing much, really. A number of the Apollo missions left the Earth's magnetic field, and nothing spectacular happened.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            They weren't up there for the year it would take to get to Mars, radiation is a bitch. That said, Buzz Aldrin is 83 with no sign of cancer so who knows?

      • They've been planning a return mission for decades. A Mars sample return mission would be the most elaborate and expensive NASA had ever planned, not including new technology cost overruns which nearly doubled Curiosity's cost, and delayed it one launch cycle. The Mars exploration program was even terminated from NASA's budget last year as a punishment, untill partially restored.

        The latest proposed sample mission would invovle three sub-missions; (1) A lander-rover to collect the rockets; (2) a lander-
  • by Anonymous Coward

    they should not go with Pirelli...

  • that gets you stranded in a bad neighborhood.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe the wheels are just dirty?

    They see me rovin'
    They hatin'

  • I don't get all the people bashing the design?

    Just think how long the rover has been on Mars - far longer than ever expected. It has a few dings in the wheels. Amazing machine!

  • From the reading I've done, it's met most of its objectives. Many of the goals and experiments don't need mobility anyway. It's not like it can't move either even with the existing and anticipated state of wear.

    It does raise an interesting question though. Due to the cost of getting stuff there, should future missions include repair robots to reuse or recycle the stuff already on site?

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