Moving along the surface of Mars, rovers often encounter the fact that “stowaways” are on board. Last year, a rock got stuck in the wheel of the Perseverance rover. And the other day a similar problem happened to its twin brother Curiosity. The image from August 31 shows a rock crashing into one of the rover’s badly battered wheels.
NASA image processor Kevin Gill posted a message on Twitter this weekend. “The Curiosity Rover has picked up its own wheel rock buddy… Wedged in there between two of the grousers,” Gill wrote.
Since landing in 2012, Curiosity has been roaming around the rugged and rocky Gale crater. It regularly shoots its wheels on camera so that the rover team can track their wear and tear. Aluminum wheels look pretty battered, cracks, holes and broken treads are visible on them. The rover team has taken measures to extend the life of the wheels, so NASA expects them to last until the end of the mission. In April, the space agency extended the Curiosity mission for three years.
Unlike Perseverance, where the rock got inside the wheel, where it did not create any inconvenience and subsequently fell out, Curiosity has such a piece of rock that can pose a problem when moving. The engineering team hopes that eventually the stone will fall away due to friction on the surface. NASA will check the wheels more often to avoid trouble in advance, and will try to take precautions when a rock poses a threat to the wheels.
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