CNET's NASA narrows down Mars 2020 rover names: Hello, Fido? includes the image below.

I'm not sure if the rover is moving and a rolling shutter was in use, or if the lines on the wheels are really wavy somehow, so I thought I'd ask:


  1. What are the lines on the wheels of the Insight rover called?
  2. Are they actually "wavy" as shown in the image?
  3. Are they different than those on the Curiosity rover?

Click each image for full size or see the original image linked below

Mars 2020 rover wheel Mars 2020 rover wheel

Mars 2020 rover wheel Mars 2020 rover wheel

Complete image: https://i.stack.imgur.com/Xzxkk.jpg

original giant size: https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/OMgFU-dyAN7_bqtQCGMMVADCY88=/2019/12/18/56a896f7-98ff-4a05-8b4d-97f99ee29891/pia23499-hires.jpg (imgur shrinks it)

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    $\begingroup$ Are we sure these are the final flight-model wheels? Curiosity's wheels (especially with the JPL Morse code) look significantly different. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Jan 14 '20 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek good point; that should be confirmed, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 14 '20 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek they were apparently redesigned because MSL's wheels had poor endurance. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jan 14 '20 at 23:15

Partial answer because I learned a new word.

The lines / treads on the wheels are called "grousers" and they are indeed wavy.


Extensive testing in JPL's Mars Yard has shown these treads better1 withstand the pressure from sharp rocks but work just as well on sand.

(from the 1st link)

1In comparison to Mars Science Laboratory's wheel design

  • $\begingroup$ Compared to straight grousers or chevron grousers, the tradeoffs are complicated. Here's the full analysis. ri.cmu.edu/pub_files/2014/6/i-SAIRAS2014_Hiroaki_grouser.pdf $\endgroup$ – Camille Goudeseune Aug 6 '20 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ If you can add a short summary from CG's link above to address "If so, why?" then I can click accept. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 9 '20 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I read through that paper...and it's pretty intense! Don't think I could do it justice. Also it only seems to address chevron vs straight grousers, not "wavy" ones. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Nov 9 '20 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ I've edited the question to match current state of knowledge because "wavy grousers" deserves marquee status (new question title). $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 9 '20 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh lol, great question title. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Nov 9 '20 at 22:20

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