Readers who’ve been around for a while know we’ve been keeping an eye on Curiosity’s wheels; they have taken a beating traveling around on Mars.
NASA of course has been working the problem right from the beginning and they now have come up with an algorithm to help with the problem.
JPL/NASA (Andrew Good) – There are no mechanics on Mars, so the next best thing for NASA’s Curiosity rover is careful driving.
A new algorithm is helping the rover do just that. The software, referred to as traction control, adjusts the speed of Curiosity’s wheels depending on the rocks it’s climbing. After 18 months of testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the software was uploaded to the rover on Mars in March. Mars Science Laboratory’s mission management approved it for use on June 8, after extensive testing at JPL and multiple tests on Mars.
Even before 2013, when the wheels began to show signs of wear, JPL engineers had been studying how to reduce the effects of the rugged Martian surface. On level ground, all of the rover’s wheels turn at the same speed. But when a wheel goes over uneven terrain, the incline causes the ...