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Engineers have designed and uploaded new software to Curiosity to better protect and use the rover’s wheels as it travels over rough terrain.
The software, referred to as traction control, adjusts the speed of Curiosity’s wheels depending on the rocks it’s climbing. After 18 months of testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the software was uploaded to the rover on Mars in March. Mars Science Laboratory’s mission management approved it for use on June 8, after extensive testing at JPL and multiple tests on Mars.
The timing is important, because Curiosity is about to move into terrain that looks far rougher than the ground it has so far traversed.