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About Face: Rover Engineers Change the Rules for Driving

When Joe Melko started design work four years ago on the six-wheeled rovers that are now on Mars, he didn’t plan on steering one of them like a six-person river raft. five 1/2 months after landing the robots on Mars, that’s what he and a team of engineers are doing. Now that the right front wheel on the Spirit rover is showing signs of wear, Melko and a team of assistants have been testing a surrogate rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to see how it performs on five wheels. No matter that the rover has gone six times the distance it was designed to drive on Mars. Scientists still have a lot of rock outcrops they’d like to investigate. And this team will keep that rover going as long as humanly possible.

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Link: NASA - Spirit event archive