NASA’s Curiosity Rover smartly changes route to avoid slippery slope

After being defeated by a slippery slope during its last attempt to move forward and achieve its goal of investigating a geological boundary on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover has taken a new route for completing its mission.

According to recent reports, the rover has climbed a hill in order to reach a similar site where a couple of distinctive bedrock types meet with each other. The pale rock located on Mount Sharp’s lower slopes has already been examined by Curiosity, and right now the research team wants it to check the bedded rock on an adjacent outcrop.

The first site located further south got picked out around two weeks back. However, the rover was obstructed by a series of slippery slopes.

Chris Roumeliotis, the head rover driver of Curiosity, described Mars as a very deceptive planet. He said that it’s a known fact that Curiosity has been obstructed time and again by the polygonal sand ripples in the past, however, there are more consolidated, and rockier terrains near those ripples.


Roumeliotis along with his team drove around those sand ripples and tried to move through what appeared to them a firmer terrain; they thought that this attempt would provide Curiosity with better traction. However, that new terrain also turned out to be unconsolidated; this incident left Roumeliotis and his colleagues deeply surprised.

The Martian buggy, according to latest reports, has experienced a lot of wheel slippage on 3 out of 4 drives, which eventually forced it to stop for safety. Curiosity’s onboard software can calculate the degree of slippage by comparing actual drive distance and the total number of wheel rotation.

When obstructed, the rover was leaving the base of Jocko Butte and moving towards the Logan Pass region. The obstruction forced it to turn round and head back. When explaining the situation, Roumeliotis said that after being obstructed, he and his team decided to again move in the direction of Jocko Butte and simultaneously work with scientists for locating suitable alternate routes.

The team took very little time to find a new route for reaching the boundary. They did so by using images captured by the rover as well as NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite. Ashwin Vasavada, a project scientist of Curiosity, informed that he and his team used observations from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for identifying a suitable alternative site.