back to article Curiosity now going BACKWARDS

Putting a nuclear-powered, laser-armed space tank on Mars is one of humanity’s most remarkable achievements, and now we've even figured out how to make it go backwards! Curiosity, the space tank in question, last week shifted into “R” and travelled just over 100 metres in a single day. That's the longest distance the rover has …

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Anonymous Coward

Testing

They didn't test reverse before sending to Mars?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Testing

"Boldly going forward 'coz we can't find reverse" (Star Trekking).

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Re: Testing

Damn! Beat me to it!

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I don't understand why the wheels would sustain less damage when moving in reverse. Can anyone suggest reasons?

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Joke

"I don't understand why the wheels would sustain less damage when moving in reverse."

Well, obviously, You're now backing away from the bumps instead of driving over them!

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Also

Also, the millage on the vehicle is decreasing instead of increasing. And that will have a positive effect on the trade in value.

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@Gray ham

Maybe there's a loose part rubbing on the wheel that flaps against the wheel when going forward, but rides on top in reverse. I've seen that happen in auto accidents, where the fender is pushed in just the right way and only one direction works without grinding the crap out of the tire.

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Perhaps there has been cumulative damage to the front suspension over time and it's less able to absorb shocks compared to that at the back.

It needs to make a call to the AAA (Alien Automobile Association) to see if they can come fix it.

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I don't understand why the wheels would sustain less damage when moving in reverse. Can anyone suggest reasons?

The rover's wheels are heavily ribbed, presumably to improve the level of grip. You see from the tracks it leaves behind that those ribs do cut into the surface. It's possible that they have an asymmetric profile - e.g. more sawtoothed shaped than straight up and down, to cut into the surface and provide a positive key. On the other hand if that level of grip isn't needed (or you can switch direction again if you get stuck) running the "saw" backwards may well allow smoother operation and avoid relentlessly cutting into the surface when it isn't needed.

No actual evidence to support that hypothesis but it seems eminently plausible.

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They're not only ribbed, but they appear to be unidirectional: http://cdn1.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/5008228/rover_13_large_verge_medium_landscape.jpg

and

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/06/26/curiosity/assets/411-177-leftwheel-after.jpg

The ribbing doesn't go all the way around: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/PIA16134-Mars_Curiosity_Rover_Wheels.jpg

So perhaps it's a wear thing.

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Re: Also

Also, the mileage on the vehicle is decreasing instead of increasing.

Dare I mention Ferris Bueller?

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Dust wipes, flaps, etc tend to make dust accumulate in certain ways. Reverse tends to change the way that dust accumulates.

Drive off road through mud, clean off, then reverse through that same mud. Totally different accumulation.

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Re: Also

> positive effect on the trade in value

Low mileage. Buyer collects.

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Anonymous Coward

They put the tyres on backwards :)

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Anonymous Coward

I wouldn't bother to ask Quikfit.

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Pint

I don't understand

I don't understand MANY things in this amazing and surprising universe. Doesn't mean they're not real.

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> No actual evidence to support that hypothesis but

excellent bull-shittin'. Have an upvote!

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Coat

If a rover backs up on Mars...

.. does it make a beep, beep, beep?

Mine with the Hello Kitty patches. ------------------------------------>>

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Coat

Re: If a rover backs up on Mars...

...and immediately banged into a shopping cart.

Wait, I had the wrong one -------------------------------->>>

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Boffin

Re: beep, beep, beep

Only very quietly.

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Alien

Re: beep, beep, beep

If Curiosity reverses on Mars and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

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There's no spare parts shop on Mars

Now there's an opportunity.

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Re: There's no spare parts shop on Mars

Amazon Prime... whadya mean the Bezos drone doesn't go that far?

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Re: There's no spare parts shop on Mars

Now there's an opportunity

and also a Spirit, if even more spares are needed.

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Alien

Puny Humans!!!

Yeah, let's give the Martians more proof that we are a backward race...

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Anonymous Coward

Pffft, that's nothing

The Italian Mars rover will have 5 reverse gears.

Needed for a faster retreat if something scary comes along...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pffft, that's nothing

Has the French one got a yellow strip down the middle?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pffft, that's nothing

Has the French one got a yellow strip down the middle?

No, but it does come with a white flag...

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Moonwalking

So Curiosity is basically moonwalking? Or better said as 'Marswalking'?

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Coat

Question is ......

What will this action do for the project as a whole, 'going forwards'

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Re: Question is ......

It means that they can continue operations when Mars is retrograde.

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Anonymous Coward

hollow legs

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/06/26/curiosity/assets/411-177-leftwheel-after.jpg

Questions that come to mind when I look at that picture.

Why didn't they route that cable bundle through the (presumably) hollow leg? It could be damaged by stones kicking up or by a stone trapped in the wheel.

The thickness of the wheel metal is not enough to avoid tears and punctures. I wonder if they knew this would happen or not. Did it happen because of unforeseen conditions or did they not test it on Earth sufficiently or some other reason.

No criticisms should be implied. I'm just curious.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hollow legs

Why didn't they route that cable bundle through the (presumably) hollow leg? It could be damaged by stones kicking up or by a stone trapped in the wheel.

To make it possible to hotwire it. If astronauts finally get there after 2+ years in a rocket it would be damn embarrassing to have forgotten the key. Just theorising...

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Re: hollow legs

"Why didn't they route that cable bundle through the (presumably) hollow leg? It could be damaged by stones kicking up"

I can't see there being much shrapnel with Curiosity moving at a rather leisurely 100 metres a day.

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Re: hollow legs

They anticipated that the wheels would get punctured, but they thought it would happen at a slower rate than they've seen so far.

Apparently the motors are powerful enough to run with square wheels, although I'd be more worried about loosing the whole wheel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hollow legs

"They anticipated that the wheels would get punctured, ...."

At the slow speeds it is moving at, were inflatable tyres a sensible choice?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hollow legs

Why would Mars rover tyres need to be inflatable? We have run flat and durable hard rubber tyres on earth.

It's also common practice to remove air from inflatable tyres when venturing off road.

Curiosity has only travelled 3.5 miles and it's tyres have gaping holes and gashes.

Presumably NASA would just need to develop a suitable material to withstand extreme cold.

Is there a vehicle on earth that operates on rough terrain with Aluminium wheels?

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Anonymous Coward

Are the martians annoyed by...

...the BEEEEEP BEEEEEP BEEEEEP sound as it backs up?

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Re: Are the martians annoyed by...

Yes they were following to see if Captain Black was on board, until it started reversing and they paniced and fled.

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Anonymous Coward

Was it made in France? (goes in reverse very quickly).

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Go

Re: Was it made in France?

I remember there was a French car (Citroën Traction Avante?) where the custom was to drive up a steep hill in reverse because the transmission of the reverse drive was lower than the first gear.

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Re: Was it made in France?

Reverse is a lower ratio than first in pretty much every car, French or not.

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Re: Was it made in France?

But with front-wheel drive there's additional traction because of more weight on the driving wheels. Also, on a loose surface you want to 'push' the vehicle uphill, so front-wheel drive means going in reverse.

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Re: Was it made in France?

Reversing up steep (I mean very steep) hills is standard practice for front wheel drive cars as weight shifts onto the front wheels and you have chance to actually move rather than spin the wheels.

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Anonymous Coward

In all seriousness

Isn't it just possible that they want to be able to backup in the situation where they arrive at a cliff and don't want to drop off it.

It doesn't say whether they have a man or a woman driving it. Either way you could end up at a dead end due to lack of map reading skills.

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On twitter they used the analogy of dragging a suitcase along rather than pushing it. Could it be down to unequal weight disribution? - If it is heavier at the front there is perhaps a chance it rolls smoother in reverse?

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Bah!

What a shame someone can't just nip over from Marsbase whenever the NASA Jitney needs a new part or a quick dusting.

Yep, this "robots, not people" plan is working out and it's a real attention grabber when it comes to motivating the population in all things High Frontier.

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Headline:

Curiosity Mars Rover Encounters Reverses!

Scientists hopeful

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Anonymous Coward

I got to fondle its wheel

An AIAA sponsored panel with some of the MSL team @ The Proud Bird near(-ly on top of) LAX. They brought some goodies... and a wheel. Bloody heavy it was.

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Anonymous Coward

Tyres/Tires

So a long life nuclear power source negated by weight saving Aluminium tyres. Way to go NASA! woop woop.

I'm still in total awe of the teams working on the other components though, especially the landing mechanism.

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