All is not well with NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. The wear and tear in its wheels owing to rough Martian landscape has been a cause of concern for mission managers.
They are now seeking out a smoother path for the one-tonne robot to its ultimate goal. Mission managers revealed their growing concern for the 'accelerated' wheel damage Curiosity was sustaining. The rough terrain is taking its toll on the rover's six wheels, causing scratches and punctures.
In high-resolution photographs captured by the rover's robotic arm-mounted camera, the full extent of Curiosity's wheel damage was revealed.
Mission managers now want to preserve the wheels' condition for as long as possible, so searching for smoother landscape to traverse would be prudent, Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California, was quoted as saying. "We'll take a peek over the dune into the valley immediately to the west to see whether the terrain looks as good as the analysis of orbital images implies," Erickson said in a NASA release.
The dune, which stands approximately one metre high, has been dubbed 'Dingo Gap'. "This area is appealing. The big draw is exploration and seeing new things," the release added.