NASA scientists had to solve a relatively common problem hear on Earth with the Rover on Mars. What do you do when you are stuck in the sand? Anyone who has ever raced off road or owned a 4X4, dune buggy or ATV understands these issues. There are many trucks to getting a vehicles unstuck from the sand. The scientists were able to get unstuck. Now then let’s discuss this issue of Mars or Planetary exploration, because I fear that this is only one common problem we will face as we start to explore other worlds.
Well, if you get stuck in the sand or mud in your car, minivan, SUV or pick-up what do you do? Have you ever wondered how you will get out? Have you ever almost got stuck and thought, what if I got stuck. Getting a tow can be very expensive, extremely time consuming and pretty embarrassing to boot. There are ways to prevent yourself from getting stuck in the first place and tactics for getting unstuck without digging your self a bigger hole and burying your vehicles down to its axles.
The Mars rover was well designed so that its feet extend down so getting buried down to the axles is unlikely unless it finds quick sand. But if it found quicksand that would be a find in itself as that would mean water and thus probably life too, so it could send back some really good sample footage. But getting the Mars rover is completely embarrassing never the less and you cannot simple call AAA to tow you out? That just wouldn’t be covered on your membership policy? Nice try.
We know on Earth in our gasoline driven vehicles that if you get stuck in lose snow or sand, first you get rid of extra weight; ask passengers to get out. For the rover you can put down all the exploration arms at access points to lift the vehicles up slightly and tilt it in the direction you wish to move.
In a 4X4 or car stuck in sand or mud it helps to move the wheels from side to side, as it pushes the mud or sand out of the way. This can also be done with the Mars Rover or any exploratory vehicles. In a car you then would lightly touch the throttle and ease forward, without spinning your wheels as you might dig in deeper. This too would be smart for the Mars Rover to get unstuck. Moving back and forth helps a car with an area of traction, by shifting from forward to reverse, we know that each time you are in gear you give it a little light touch of the gas until the vehicle gets going. Once the vehicle gets going we simple stay on the gas until we are clear of the mud or sand. This scenario can be used as part of our new protocol for the Mars Rover or exploratory vehicles on other worlds.
Often a vehicle, which is stuck in the mud will need something for traction under its wheels? How about the sample collected on Mars, rocks and stuff, put them under the wheels with the mechanical arm and once unstuck pick them back up if you need them? How many times have you started to hunt for logs, wood, rocks to put under the tires or fill up a rut so you had something to drive on which was solid?
Anyone who has ever got stuck in the mud or sand knows that once you are on safer ground you stop and take assessment of the situation. In other words when you get back on the pavement, you check your car over and look underneath and make sure there is no damage. On a car it is possible that you may have torn or ripped a brake line or caused cosmetic damage to your vehicles which will need to be fixed and taken care of as soon as possible so pieces do not fly off while driving. Remember there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything.
After we get any planetary exploration vehicle unstuck we must assess what damage we have caused if any. I hope you’ll remember this article when you need the information most. If you are a human in a vehicle stuck in the sand or mud; the towing company is hoping you’ll forget. If your planetary exploration vehicles is stuck again the taxpayer is hoping you are listening. Think on this.