Mars rover engineers are using a testing laboratory to simulate specific Mars surface conditions where NASA’s rover Opportunity has spun its wheels in a small dune. Careful testing is preceding any commands for Opportunity to resume moving to get out of the dune and continue exploring.
Before sending Curiosity to Mars, scientists test a replica on Earth. Will the giant rover be able to overcome the harsh challenges of the red planet?
Researchers are using a newly built single-wheel tester to simulate a variety of terrain conditions similar to Mars including loose granular soil, dense high shear strength soil and a bedrock-like material.
High-precision slip tests in hot, dry sands show that the Mars Science Lab “Curiosity” may be more sure-footed than its predecessors Spirit or Opportunity.