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NASA's Mars Curiosity rover silently taking a beating from red planet rocks



The Curiosity rover's wheel has some damage in this image from July 7.


NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
                                                

NASA's Curiosity rover is equipped with tough aluminum wheels, but they're not getting off easy on Mars.

The rover uses the Mars hand lens imager (MAHLI) camera on the end of its robotic arm to take a close look at its wheels on July 7. This is pretty much the rover equivalent of inspecting the bottom of your boat after going for a rocky hike.

Yep, those are some holes in Curiosity's wheel.


NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
                                                

The wheels are dented and pockmarked from traversing rough ground. What's most important are the many cracks and outright holes visible across the treads.

While the damage looks scary, the wheels are actually doing a pretty good job of hanging in there.

"Although the wheels have developed some holes, the testing and modeling that have been done since early 201

4 indicate that curiosity can Roger Craig Wiens wrote in a mission update.

The rover has traveled 12.99 miles (20.91 kilometers) since reaching Mars in 2012, so the wheels should be still serviceable for quite some time.

NASA checks on Curiosity's wheels regularly. A viewed from early this year looking just as startling as the new images. Curiosity's team has devised clever ways to work through it,

With Opportunity now defunct Curiosity is NASA's only remaining Mars rover. At least until the new Mars 2020 rover arrives.


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