NASA’s Curiosity rover is equipped with six wheels, all of which NASA wants to keep as close to the Martian ground as possible,media CNET reported. The Curiosity team had to change its scientific plans when telemetry data showed one of the rover’s wheels was dangling. Curiosity recently headed to an area called Western Butte, where one of its wheels hovered about 6 inches (15 cm) above the ground.
“When the rover is at the highest point in Western Butte, it means that we need to complete a brief ‘collision’ to adjust the rover’s plans for Monday, which has to be delayed,” atmospheric scientists at Aeolis Research wrote in an update to Monday’s mission. “
Curiosity’s aerial flywheel is easy to repair, and the rover has since continued its mission to observe the Martian atmosphere and surface.
Showing off the rear wheel balancing stunt will put extra force on the other wheels of the rover, so NASA wants to correct the machine’s position. The space agency applied a new algorithm to Curiosity in 2017 to help protect damaged wheels and reduce wheel problems on the Rover. It’s part of an effort to protect the life of NASA’s only operational Mars rover.