Space agency, NASA, is preparing for future Mars explorations by improving on their means of transportation. Researchers were able to create a new type of wove-mesh metal tire that reacts to the terrain and „remembers” its ideal shape only to recover to its original form.Officials at the NASA Glenn Research Center have been trying to solve several problems with their past and current projects, most notably the Mars Curiosity rover.
The little robot has experienced a boatload of navigational issues since it landed on the Red Planet. While it was instructed to avoid small, pointy rocks, the Mars rover still took a beating from the terrain leaving a number of large holes in its tires.
Engineer Colin Creager and his other colleagues at NASA had initially built a wheel called a spring tire, which was capable of gripping soft sand and could have supported a lot of weight. However, their prototype encountered a constant problem, in that, dents would appear in them every time.
Exploration requires mobility. And whether you’re on Earth or as far away as the Moon or Mars, you need good tires to get your vehicle from one place to another. Take a look at how we reinvent the wheel: https://t.co/ofabAHUjpY pic.twitter.com/lgGhjkpajR
— NASA (@NASA) November 26, 2017
Creager then collaborated with Santo Padula, a materials scientist, who recommended using a shape-memory alloy for their tires. This material is very elastic and can spring back up into place even after the most intense terrain. The new alloy can endure up to 10 percent strain which includes 30 times better elasticity as opposed to the current alloy’s 0.3 percent durability that the Mars Curiosity rover is made off.
„Since then, we’ve been collaborating… to come up with this new tire that we think is really going to revolutionize planetary rover tires and potentially even tires for Earth, too,” states Creager.
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