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Relating geologic units and mobility system kinematics contributing to Curiosity wheel damage at Gale Crater, Mars

Arvidson, R. E. and DeGrosse, P., Jr. and Grotzinger, J. P. and Heverly, M. C. and Shechet, J. and Moreland, S. J. and Newby, M. A. and Stein, N. and Steffy, A. C. and Zhou, F. and Zastrow, A. M. and Vasavada, A. R. and Fraeman, A. A. and Stilly, E. K. (2017) Relating geologic units and mobility system kinematics contributing to Curiosity wheel damage at Gale Crater, Mars. Journal of Terramechanics, 73 . pp. 73-93. ISSN 0022-4898.

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Curiosity landed on plains to the north of Mount Sharp in August 2012. By June 2016 the rover had traversed 12.9 km to the southwest, encountering extensive strata that were deposited in a fluvial-deltaic-lacustrine system. Initial drives across sharp sandstone outcrops initiated an unacceptably high rate of punctures and cracks in the thin aluminum wheel skin structures. Initial damage was found to be related to the drive control mode of the six wheel drive actuators and the kinematics of the rocker-bogie suspension. Wheels leading a suspension pivot were forced onto sharp, immobile surfaces by the other wheels as they maintained their commanded angular velocities. Wheel damage mechanisms such as geometry-induced stress concentration cracking and low-cycle fatigue were then exacerbated. A geomorphic map was generated to assist in planning traverses that would minimize further wheel damage. A steady increase in punctures and cracks between landing and June 2016 was due in part because of drives across the sharp sandstone outcrops that could not be avoided. Wheel lifetime estimates show that with careful path planning the wheels will be operational for an additional ten kilometers or more, allowing the rover to reach key strata exposed on the slopes of Mount Sharp.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Arvidson, R. E.0000-0002-2854-0362
Grotzinger, J. P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Vasavada, A. R.0000-0003-2665-286X
Fraeman, A. A.0000-0003-4017-5158
Additional Information:© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of ISTVS. This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( Received 17 November 2016, Accepted 5 March 2017, Available online 12 April 2017. We thank the Mars Exploration Program, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover mission), and MSL wheel anomaly investigation team led by Richard Rainen for supporting the work presented in this paper. We thank the Geomorphic Mapping and Analysis Team, led by co-author John Grotzinger, for their tactical mapping and terrain analysis. We also thank the many engineers and scientists associated with the Curiosity mission who have helped in one way or another to make the mission a success and provided detailed reviews of this paper. We thank Fred Calef, JPL, for extensive work on HiRISE mosaic generation and co-registration with digital elevation maps generated from HiRISE stereo pair images. Funding was provided by NASA/Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory to relevant institutions for participation in the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Mission. Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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Subject Keywords:Mars rovers; Curiosity rover; Ackerman arcs
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170525-144613361
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Official Citation:R.E. Arvidson, P. DeGrosse, J.P. Grotzinger, M.C. Heverly, J. Shechet, S.J. Moreland, M.A. Newby, N. Stein, A.C. Steffy, F. Zhou, A.M. Zastrow, A.R. Vasavada, A.A. Fraeman, E.K. Stilly, Relating geologic units and mobility system kinematics contributing to Curiosity wheel damage at Gale Crater, Mars, In Journal of Terramechanics, Volume 73, 2017, Pages 73-93, ISSN 0022-4898, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:77768
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 May 2017 21:54
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:01

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