NASA ‘memory metal’ tires could bring major upgrades to Mars probe wheels

NASA is working on alloy tires with shape memories for future Missionmars to Mars,media reported. While the agency’s Perseverance rover will take six aluminum wheels to Mars later this year, NASA’s marsrover will be able to use memory metal in the future.

NASA 'memory metal' tires could bring major upgrades to Mars probe wheels

NASA 'memory metal' tires could bring major upgrades to Mars probe wheels

The left is the Curiosity wheel and the right is the perseverance wheel.

It is understood that these alloys bend when pressure is applied, but eventually return to the “memory” shape.

For now, a team at NASA’s Glenn Research Center is using the metal to make new tires. They can be contoured with the terrain below and can catch rocks to the maximum extent possible, even by envestomy rocks and other small obstacles without being broken. They can also make the vehicle’s travel smoother because the deformed tires act as shock absorbers.

While the tires may not look as robust as the metal wheels of the Perseverance, they are actually more elastic.

Tests at the Glenn Simulated Moon Operations Laboratory showed that the new tire actually had better grip and traction than existing ones. It is reported that the Interior of the Glen Laboratory has a variety of Martian landscape reproductions, where a variety of Mars technology tests can be carried out. “Stronger tires also allow four tires to be used to design a probe, rather than the past six tires,” NASA explained. Therefore, in future human exploration or robotic missions, these tires can provide valuable flexibility in the design of aircraft and spacecraft. “

Reducing the number of wheels will make the manufacturing of future vehicles more straightforward and reduce potential failure areas. For example, the perseverance number of the six drive motors has a separate steering motor for each front and rear wheel, which, while flexible, also represents more possible mechanical or electrical fault points.

NASA 'memory metal' tires could bring major upgrades to Mars probe wheels

“We’re developing a Mars-grade material that can dramatically improve sMA performance and achieve reversible deformation of the material in harsh Martian environments without sacrificing performance,” said Dr. Santo Padula, a SMA materials and design engineer at Glen Labs.

In fact, the technology also has a very good application on Earth. Glenn has shown a prototype of the wheels for ordinary vehicles, which will use its SMA to develop a completely puncture-resistant alternative to traditional rubber tyres.