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Curiosity Rips Tire

Curiosity rover on Mars

Curiosity's tire hole

A large hole was spotted on the middle-right of the six wheels on Nasa’s Mars Curiosity rover.

The coin-sized dent caused by a sharp rock has left a gaping hole in the tire.

It is the newest of many bumps and bruises the 1-ton vehicle has experienced since it landed on the Mars in August 2012.

Mission Control is confident that even with one or several wheels being damaged like this, they will still be able to achieve Curiosity’s goals.

The rover is currently making its way to the base of Mount Sharp.

While this damage will slow the mission, it will be cause for concern as it shows how susceptible it really is to rocks.

‘They are taking damage,’ said Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson in California about the wheel.

‘That’s the surprise we got back at the end of last year.

‘We always expected we would get some holes in the wheels as we drove.

‘It’s just the size of what we’re seeing that was the surprise.’

He said the worst case scenario is that one of the wheels could be completely torn to shreds and become unusable.

This would mean it would have to be dragged across Mars by the other five wheels, and any flailing damage could also pose a risk to exposed wires.

The chances of this happening are slim, but the engineers are still surprised at how much of a beating the rover has taken in just under two years.

One of the main culprits has been ‘caprock’, flat areas of hard Martian rock.

In attempts to avoid going over these areas engineers have been trying to spot softer and sandier areas from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter currently circling the planet.

 

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Curiosity Rips Tire

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