NASA's Curiosity rover has been on Mars for over a year now, and in the time has traversed nearly three miles. While its wheels are made of high-grade aluminum, they're not strong enough to last forever. NASA announced this week it was taking an extra-long look at the wheels, and boy are they in rough shape.

Dents and holes are to be expected after a bit of time driving on the surface of another planet, but the wear-and-tear has accelerated lately and NASA's not sure why. To examine the damage, they've taken a few beautiful shots of Curiosity's six wheels, and you can really see what rough terrain does to the average space-faring probe. It looks like Curiosity's been through the wringer.



As you can see in the picture below, some of the dents haven't quite punched clean through yet, but they're on their way:

And this is what the wheels looked like when (relatively) shiny and new:


And I just thought this picture was really cool, so enjoy:

Even in rough shape, the cosmos and the human engineering that gets us there is incredibly beautiful.


[via Discovery]

Photos credit NASA-JPL