Follow this link to skip to the main content National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
NASA Banner
NASA Mars Exploration Program
Mars Exploration Program
Home
SPOTLIGHT

06.20.2014

'Scarecrow' Rover Goes Off-Roading in Dumont Dunes

To understand Mars rover Curiosity's wheel constraints, JPL engineers test the Scarecrow rover's driving skills on desert sand dunes.

Practice Drives in Sand Dunes

Practice Drives in Sand Dunes 

Curiosity's test vehicle for driving, Scarecrow, gets down and dirty out in the Dumont Dunes in California's Mojave Desert, near Death Valley. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
1 / 15
Curiosity’s Stunt Double

Curiosity’s Stunt Double 

Scarecrow has a full-size version of Curiosity's wheels and other driving equipment, but doesn't have the "brains." Engineers use it to test drive on different types of terrain. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
2 / 15
The Road to Mount Sharp

The Road to Mount Sharp 

Curiosity is halfway to Mount Sharp, a three-mile-high mountain which scientists call "the Promised Land." At the base of Mount Sharp, scientists expect to find a variety of rocks and minerals stacked in layers. Each layer could tell us a story about what the environment was like when the layer formed as well as any changes through time. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
3 / 15
Choice of Closer Destination Paid Off

Choice of Closer Destination Paid Off 

Before driving Curiosity to Mount Sharp, the team chose to study first an area called "Yellowknife Bay." That choice was a good one as the team met its main science goal of finding that this area once had conditions favorable for microbial life. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
4 / 15
Wheel Wear Along the Way

Wheel Wear Along the Way 

Getting to Mount Sharp is a priority, but Curiosity has had to adjust her driving to compensate for some wheel "wear and tear" that engineers did not expect this early into the mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
5 / 15
Seeking Soft Patches of Soil

Seeking Soft Patches of Soil 

Sharp, pointy rocks forced the team to seek soft patches of sandy Martian soil. In this image, you see a small sand dune called the "Dingo Gap," which Curiosity crossed to avoid sharp rocks. Curiosity will be driving over more soft sandy areas on her way to Mount Sharp. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
6 / 15
Mobility Team Looks for Best Spot to Practice Driving

Mobility Team Looks for Best Spot to Practice Driving 

Back on Earth, engineers scour the Dumont Dunes area and look for the best spot to practice driving over dunes like those Curiosity may drive over on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
7 / 15
Mars on Earth

Mars on Earth 

The sand dunes on Earth resemble those on Mars. This image shows engineers seeking out the best place to test-drive Curiosity’s "cousin," Scarecrow. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
8 / 15
Desolate Landscape

Desolate Landscape 

Scientist Rob Sullivan explores the Dumont Dunes area, on the hunt for the best place to test drive the Scarecrow rover. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
9 / 15
Replicating Martian Dunes

Replicating Martian Dunes 

Amanda Steffy and Rob Sullivan help shape a course of sand ripples for the Scarecrow rover to drive over. On Mars, the Curiosity rover may cross similar sand ripples on its way to Mount Sharp. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
10 / 15
Driving Over Sandy Ripples

Driving Over Sandy Ripples 

Engineers test the rover’s driving skills on soft sand ripples in this latest desert-driving trip on June 5, 2014. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
11 / 15
Dunes Obstacle Course

Dunes Obstacle Course 

Despite the challenge of loose, sandy soil, the Scarecrow rover drove over the obstacle course without a hitch! Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
12 / 15
The Long Road Ahead

The Long Road Ahead 

Driving over sand dunes may make for longer duration drives. The team wants to avoid getting stuck in the sand, so going slow is sometimes good and practicing comes in handy. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
13 / 15
Going Back to Move Forward

Going Back to Move Forward 

Frequently, Curiosity drives backwards to limit the wear and tear on the damaged middle and front wheels. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
14 / 15
No Easy Roads

No Easy Roads 

On Mars, there are no roads to point the way. The team and rover have to carve their own path. Even though "Mars is Hard" and continues to surprise us, we get closer to Mount Sharp with each "step" or wheel revolution Curiosity takes. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
15 / 15




All News
USA.gov
PRIVACY     FAQ     SITEMAP     IMAGE POLICY     FEEDBACK