The Nasa Mars Rover has become stuck in the sand. (see story here:
Do you guys think Nasa should have used tank style treads instead of
wheels? I know that the six wheels gives the rover lots of articulation
so it can easily traverse rough terrain but wouldn't tank treads work
just as well? Would tank treads increase the power consumption of the
Rubber tires might work better to...
How would you design tank treads considering you couldn't use most
plastics or rubber in the design? Organic substances could possibly
confuse onboard sensors which are used to detect organic chemicals.
Organic chemicals are a signature of life, and as such should not be
introduced into the martian environment until the search for existing
organics is complete.
Both traditional tracks and rubber tracks have serious problems in fine,
abrasive soils. In traditional tracks, it gets into the rotating joint
between each shoe and eats it up. In rubber tracks, the grit gets
pressed between the inside of the track and the drive wheels where it
erodes the traction surface.
Go to a caterpillar dealer look at one of brochures for a track type
tractor (bulldozer). If one of the salesmen is free, ask him what the
maintenance procedure is for a dozed working in a sandy environment.
You'll be amazed both at how complex a track drive is and how much work
it takes to keep them running.
In terrestrial applications, where maintenance is fairly easy, a track
systems advantage the lower ground pressure (but large surface
disruption) compared to tires makes it worth while in many applications.
However, you can't service a planetary probe.
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