NASA underestimated the roughness of the Mars terrain. 0.75 millimeter-thick wheels of Curiosity (around the same thickness as a credit card) began getting damaged pretty quickly. In 2013, a little over a year after the Mars Curiosity Rover landed on Mars, engineers began to notice significant wheel damage due to the unexpectedly harsh terrain, causing concern about the ability of the rover to drive far enough to complete its intended mission.
Since there are There are no mechanics on Mars, the next best thing for the rover was careful driving.
To able to do this, a new algorithm was developed at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) by Jeff Biesiadecki and Olivier Toupet. The software, referred to as traction control, was adjusting 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.
Image: NASA JPL