Saturday, January 28

Why NASA has to literally reinvent the wheel for Mars

In the adventure of space exploration, human beings are going to have to rethink questions of physics that, until now, were non-negotiable. For example, is the circular wheel the best way to get around Mars?

The human being is already clear that the space It is the last frontier. For this, NASA and other agencies, such as ESA, are working on new rockets, space suits… the Land it has outgrown us and we already look at our brothers from the Solar system.

The Mars Rover is a marvel of human innovation. Space exploration has always featured cutting-edge technologies and unique innovations that enable quick thinking and problem solving that simply don’t exist on Earth’s surface.

This unique challenge forces researchers to consider better applications for things that seemed established, like the toilet, the bed, or even the wheel. When NASA sends astronauts or objects into space, they must prepare for anything unexpected.

Out there we are alone, only our tools and ingenuity can save us. In this sense, one of the great problems that they have recently faced NASA scientists had to reimagine the mobility of the Mars rover (Solar system).

The wheel design was not up to the mark when it came to driving the rover across the Martian surface. Previous models that traversed the Moon and Mars faced unique circumstances, but nothing close to the demands of the new class of rover that was being designed for missions to Mars.

In the end, scientists tried various options, but achieved a breakthrough in wheel design using memory alloys that could revolutionize the way humans think about movement, according to NASA.

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Reinventing the wheel to conquer space

The most pressing problem facing the Mars rover engineering team was the sheer weight of the rover itself. In order to deliver a vehicle suitable for exploration on the red planet, engineers had to create a much heavier unit.

On the one hand, the wheels on this rover were designed with the intention of breaking all previous distance records. This means that the rover and its wheels have to be much more durable, to increase the overall weight of the unit.

And yet, even before the new weight characteristics were factored into the design, engineers knew they had to reinvent this explorer’s propulsion system.

Previous experiences of driving on the surface of Mars made it NASA engineers were well aware of the durability issues of aluminum tires. Aluminum is a light and resistant material, but after a few trips they are unusable.

The solution devised to replace fragile aluminum wheels is called memory alloy. Shape memory alloys are made from a unique type of metal mixture called nitinol and return to their initial structure naturally when energy is applied or removed.

Nitinol has enabled the expansion of Martian exploration of the POT, but it’s also responsible for some amazing breakthroughs here on Earth. An obvious application is the improvement of standard tires.

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