Ooh! The Mars Curiosity Rover team says I think like NASA! Now I feel all smart and stuff!
You may have seen my Facebook post on July 10th about an email to NASA/JPL and the Curiosity Rover team about the damage to Curiosity’s wheels. Here’s that email again, followed by their (amazingly fast!) reply, and mine back to them:
Please forward to the Curiosity Rover team.
Here’s another of the countless suggestions you receive — this one regarding the damage to the wheels.
Would it be possible to use the science laser to do any of these?
1) Melt (weld) the ends of cracks to stop their progress, or even spot-weld together portions of cracks that have not separated widely
2) Punch a hole at the end of a crack to serve as a “rip-stop”
3) Warm portions of deformations to bend them using temperature differential, then spot-weld points that have been brought closer together
I Googled a bit and haven’t seen any discussion on this, though I’m guessing it might have been discussed. I have no idea if the laser has the right power output, or is power-variable or can be reconfigured through a software upload.
But I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Congratulations on a spectacular mission, and thanks for all you do!
On Jul 14, 2014, at 1:33 PM, Mars Outreach wrote:
We checked with one of the Curiosity science team members, and here is his response:
Those are really great questions and just how NASA thinks–how can we creatively solve the problems we encounter. Unfortunately ChemCam isn’t really a good tool for welding. It uses only a tiny amount of energy, but focuses it over a very small area and over a very short time (microseconds), so the effect is still large (for that tiny area). It vaporizes just a few micrometers of material.
To do any welding, you’d really want a blowtorch, which can impart a lot of energy over a big area, for a long time, until the whole thickness of material gets warm enough to melt.
Thanks again for your message and your interest in Mars exploration!
And I just sent them this:
Ah! Well, darn.
But I’m sure the team will do what it takes to get the job done — whether it’s steering around caprock or something more MacGyveresque!
…and now I’m giggling like a schoolboy.