NASA Confident Mars Curiosity Rover Mission Will Succeed Despite Wheel Damage
The Mars Curiosity rover has been on a mission to scour the surface of Mars since 2012. But the mission is taking its toll on the rover, its wheels are showing signs of damage now that it is nearing the final stretch of its mission to climb Mount Sharp.
To complete its mission, the Curiosity rover need to get as high as possible and to climb the slopes of Mount Sharp. This will give researchers a better view of the horizon and will aid them in finding whether or not the planet was once a host of some sort of life form.
NASA said in a press release that the curiosity rover's mission is almost complete. "NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has nearly finished crossing a stretch of the most rugged and difficult-to-navigate terrain encountered during the mission's 44 months on Mars." It has about quarter mile from a smoother surface.
But the bedrock on the surface of Mars proves to be unfavorable to the wheels of the rover. "The roughness of the terrain on the plateau raised concern that driving on it could be especially damaging to Curiosity's wheels, as was terrain Curiosity crossed before reaching the base of Mount Sharp. Holes and tears in the rover's aluminum wheels became noticeable in 2013."
Steve Lee of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that although there was visual damage to the wheels, it wouldn't be a hindrance to the rover's mission. "Cracks and puncture have been gradually accumulating at the pace we anticipated, based on testing we performed at JPL...Giver our longevity projections, I am confident these wheels will get us to the destinations."
But because of the visual damage, NASA was propelled to closely monitor the condition of Curiosity's wheels. "We carefully inspect and trend the condition of the wheels," said Lee.
NASA assured the public that despite the wheel damage they are confident that the Curiosity Rover will succeed. "Inspection of the wheels after crossing most of the Naukluft Plateau has indicated that, while the terrain presented challenges for navigation, driving across it did not accelerate damage to the wheels."
Since its launch in August 2012, the Curiosity Rover was able to beam back to earth amazing footage of Mars' surface.