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Bradley Williams

NASA officials have said that the rugged terrain on Mars is damaging the space agency's Curiosity rover, but the rover is going to complete its mountain-climbing science mission despite a wheel damage.

The Curiosity rover has been exploring the lower reaches of Mars' 3-mile-high (5 kilometers) Mount Sharp since September 2014. The data gathered by this rover is expected to provide information about the Red Planet's past potential to host microbial life.

Curiosity deputy project manager Steve Lee, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said that the aluminum wheel of the rover will allow the rover to get high enough up the mountain to complete this task, said

"Cracks and punctures have been gradually accumulating at the pace we anticipated, based on testing we performed at JPL," Lee said in a statement. "Given our longevity projections, I am confident these wheels will get us to the destinations on Mount Sharp that have been in our plans since before landing."

Curiosity landed inside Mars' 96-mile-wide (154 km) Gale Crater in August 2012. In July 2013, the rover started moving towards the base of Mount Sharp, initiating a 5-mile-long (8 km) journey that would take 14 months to complete.

"At a current odometry of 7.9 miles (12.7 km) since its August 2012 landing, Curiosity's wheels are projected to have more than enough life remaining to investigate the hematite, clay and sulfate units ahead, even in the unlikely case that up to three grousers break soon," NASA officials wrote in the same statement. "The driving distance to the start of the sulfate-rich layers is roughly 4.7 miles (7.5 km) from the rover's current location."
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