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67515Interesting comment on 'Curiosity' on Mars

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  • Bruce Tanner
    Aug 10, 2012
    Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity Rover vehicle tires have tread
    patterns that imprint the acronym JPL in Morse Code in the dusty soil of
    the Mars surface. The wheel tread pattern is made by square and
    rectangular holes in the wheels. When in motion riding around the sandy
    Gale Crater, this pattern is viewed by the driver using some of the 17
    cameras aboard this interplanetary SUV. It takes about 14 minutes for
    radio waves to travel from the red planet to earth, through the Mars
    Odyssey orbiter relay satellite using UHF. Since there is a more than a
    30 minute round trip delay between the driving commands and finding out
    the result of the measured moves, there is a need for the earth-bound
    drivers to maintain visual orientation and checks of distance
    traveled... this can be gauged by incremental count of the tread pattern
    repeats. Curiosity has 6 of these morse-coded wheels, and uses a
    rocker-bogie suspension, enabling it to climb obstacles. Who knows how
    many years these tread patterns will last on Mars? Perhaps when future
    Martian archaeologists study these strange fossil tread patterns a few
    hundred years from now, they will try to find someone studied in ancient
    radio lore to decode the meaning. (see attached photo)

    Terry L. Morris, KB8AMZ
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