Curiosity Rover Takes A Break From Mars Exploring To Look At Its Wheels

NASA's Curiosity has spent the last few years regularly exploring Mars, and two new photos from the rover showcase the impressive wheels that make its traversal possible. Mars is a planet that's fascinated astronomers for decades. Why? There are a few reasons. For one thing, its proximity to Earth makes exploration considerably easier than other planets in the Solar System. It's also home to lots of frozen water, has fascinating rock formations, and may have once been home to ancient life.

Although it'll be a few years before humans get to visit Mars, NASA's sent numerous rovers there to more closely study the Red Planet. One of those rovers is Curiosity. Curiosity has been researching Mars since 2012 — and it's been doing one heck of a job since then. The rover's detected ingredients for life on the planet, has spotted harsh radiation, and found organic carbon in some of Mars' rocks. The best part? Curiosity should be able to keep up this exploration until at least 2026.

Related: NASA's Curiosity Rover Captures Rusty Martian Sand In Incredible Detail

Of all the components that power Curiosity, one of the most important is its wheels. The surface of Mars is extremely rocky, sandy, and bumpy. Because of this, rovers exploring the planet need traversal tools that can handle all these things. For Curiosity, that takes the shape of two large wheels on its front and back. A recent photo from the rover (shown above) offers an incredibly detailed view of one of them. It shows the wheel's large size, deep grooves, and markings that are present after years of travel.

Along with the first picture uploaded on December 6, Curiosity shared this second one on December 8. It offers a slightly different view of the wheels, showcasing one of the front ones and a wheel in the back. The impressive size and grooves are present once again. The image also takes a look at the wheels' hollow insides. All four of Curiosity's wheels are made out of aluminum. Those groves you see offer improved traction on the planet, as do curved titanium springs that enable 'springy support.' Each wheel is 20 inches in diameter and is capable of navigating over rocks that are the same size.

While photos of Mars' landscape and its many rocks may be more eye-catching, photos like this are just as interesting. Curiosity wouldn't be able to capture those other pictures in the first place if it wasn't for its advanced design. Because of that — its wheels included — it's able to share the photos that it does.

Next: Perseverance Just Looked Inside Mars, And It Found Something Exciting

Source: NASA (1), (2)

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