Curiosity Mars Rover Spins Its Wheels (w/ Video)

Jul 13, 2010
Engineers just installed six new wheels on the Curiosity rover, and rotated all six wheels at once on July 9, 2010. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

( -- The wheels that will touch down on Mars in 2012 are several rotations closer to spinning on the rocky trails of Mars.

This video clip shows engineers in the JPL clean room where the rover is being assembled as they put all six wheels into motion for the first time.

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Curiosity spinning its wheels

Engineers raised the rover just as a car mechanic would hoist a car to check the wheels, and started the "engine" to get the rotating. The wheel mobility system has 10 motors in all-four for steering the rover and six for driving. During this test, all 10 motors ran in every direction. Each wheel spun forward and backwards.

Next up for Curiosity is a series of "tune-ups" to prep the rover for driving.

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User comments : 6

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not rated yet Jul 13, 2010
It looks like the current rovers in Mars. I thought they might want to try to develop something that could better survive wheel motor malfunctioning. Maybe having four of those twin wheel bases they have at back, ie also one's for the front too. And then make the boom lockable so that inactivated wheel can be raised up from ground.
1 / 5 (1) Jul 13, 2010
That's really, REALLY slow no wonder they only cover small areas and get stuck!
5 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2010
Slow, but those wheels must operate on solar power and have sufficient torque to move that thing. It's the size of a car and the sun is quite a ways further away from Mars than it is from Earth. I bet those wheels have quite a bit of torque.
not rated yet Jul 14, 2010
It was actually larger than I thought it was going to be. Hopefully they included the ability to disengage the drive of the wheels, and allow them to roll freely, instead of dragging a stuck wheel along.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 14, 2010
The article should have been titled, "Curiosity turns its wheels", as "spins" implies to me a much faster rotation than "turns".
not rated yet Jul 14, 2010
Now that's a rover! Full size and ready to burn some Martian sand. And it's not that slow. Imagine slowly shuffling for an entire day, you'd cover more distance than you'd realize. And, this thing has to do all this in extreme weather conditions. Moving fast is easy on Earth, but it's a whole different story on Mars.

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