Rovin’, Rovin’, Rovin’
This panorama is a great series of shots of Curiosity’s beefy tires. You notice the strategic holes in the tires? They are actually Morse Code, spelling out J – P – L, the acronym for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This unique pattern is used by Curiosity to accurately gauge how far it’s been by creating a unique pattern to use for visual odometry.
By using a known pattern, the Rover can look back and assess any number of situations; when traveling in a relatively featureless area, it can see where it has been, judge traction in high slippage areas, such as sand dunes and compare how far it has actually come along with its actual location. All of this by seeing this unique pattern in the Martian regolith!
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