NASA Has Reinvented The Wheel to Improve Future Mars/Moon & Beyond Missions

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During the mid-2000s, NASA Glenn engineer Vivake Asnani worked with industry partner Goodyear to develop the Spring Tire, an airless compliant tire that consists of several hundred coiled steel wires woven into a flexible mesh, giving the tires the ability to support high loads while also conforming to the terrain.

image: nasaglenn / text: nasa

The Spring Tire has been proven to generate very good traction and durability in soft sand and on rocks. This innovation led to an R&D 100 Award for Top Inventions of the Year.

The game changing material that dramatically advanced the development of spring tires was nickel titanium, a shape memory alloy with amazing capabilities as explained by Santo Padula.

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They have created a nearly invincible tyre made of woven-mesh metal that “remembers” its ideal shape and immediately springs back into form after taking a beating.Engineer Colin Creager and his colleagues initially built a woven-mesh wheel made out of spring steel.read more (nasa)

It gripped soft sand well and supported a lot of weight, yet kept hitting a major snag.Recently, engineers and materials scientists have been testing a spinoff spring tire version that would work on cars and trucks on Earth. After attaching the tire to a vehicle, NASA scientists drove it on gravel and rocky surfaces.

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