Wheely tough

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This shot from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows wear and tear sustained by its wheels since touching down on the red planet in August 2012.

As of January 2017, the rover has travelled more than 15 kilometres and, although it looks like a lot of damage for such a short distance, the wheels are holding up incredibly well. 

The tyres are not the same tyres we are used to seeing on our terrestrial vehicles. The damaged “skin” is made from 0.75-millimetre-thick aluminium and is supported by 7.5 millimetres of protruding aluminium tread or “grousers”. Engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US stated that as long as a third of the grousers remain intact, the wheels will keep rolling.

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