How a Software Update Fixed Curiosity’s Wheels


Wear and tear are part of every vehicle’s lifestyle. While NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover resembles an automobile in many ways, together with size, it is a chunk more difficult to get it to a mechanic for a tune-up. That’s why NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has spent 18 months operating on a software program to add to the rover on Mars, hoping it will help supply it with a few new lives.

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Curiosity’s wheels began sporting down in 2013. However, JPL scientists had been waiting that long before. The rugged Martian terrain, for all its splendor, is difficult when it receives jagged. Curiosity’s six wheels, known as trousers, flow at equal velocity on a flat floor. But while a wheel goes over choppy terrain, the incline causes the wheels in the back or front of it to begin slipping, as NASA explains.

The slipping hassle grows exponentially while Curiosity tries to get beyond a point or jagged boulder. “If it’s a pointed rock, it’s more likely to penetrate the pores and skin among the wheel trousers,” says Art Rankin of JPL, who looks at the group lead for the traction manage software program. “The wheel put on has been causing the situation, and although we estimate they have years of lifestyles still in them, we do need to lessen that put on each time viable to extend the existence of the wheels.”

The software program traction manipulates a set of rules and uses real-time facts to alter each wheel’s pace, reducing strain from the rocks. It measures modifications to the suspension system to decide each wheel’s touchpoints. Then, the software calculates the correct velocity to prevent slippage, enhancing the rover’s traction.


While wheelies are the coolest thing you can do in a car, NASA does not want Curiosity pulling off stunts, irrespective of how ill they’ll be. Now and then, one of the rover’s mountain climbing wheels will hold growing, lifting off the actual surface of a rock until it is free-spinning. This will become a problem as it will increase the pressure on the wheels on the ground. When the software notices a wheelie, it’ll decrease stress on the rover’s lower back wheels till it rights itself.

The software update will permit NASA to extend Curiosity’s tour of the planet, which has already provided a wealth of knowledge about the records of Martian water.

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Jeanna Davila
Writer. Gamer. Pop culture fanatic. Troublemaker. Beer buff. Internet aficionado. Reader. Explorer. Set new standards for getting my feet wet with country music for farmers. Spent college summers lecturing about saliva in Libya. Won several awards for buying and selling barbie dolls in Prescott, AZ. Spent a year implementing Yugos in West Palm Beach, FL. Spent several months creating marketing channels for cigarettes in Deltona, FL. Spent 2001-2004 developing carnival rides in New York, NY.