NASA’s Curiosity rover has been driving across Mars for over four-and-a-half years without an overhaul and it’s starting to show.
According to the space agency, the six aluminum wheels that support the unmanned explorer are starting to show significant signs of wear, with two new small breaks in the metal treads of the left-side middle wheel. However, it’s expected the wheels will go the distance to allow the rover to complete its planned mission.
The wheels on the Curiosity are the largest ever to roll on the sands of the Red Planet. Built by Tapemation in California, the aluminum wheels are 20 in (50 cm) in diameter and 16 in (40 cm) across, with 19 zigzag treads, called grousers, projecting out about a quarter inch to provide traction. Inside the wheels, there are curving titanium spokes for support.