Ever since man started thinking about putting things on other planetary bodies, transport has been a concern. Wheels are the obvious means of getting around, but using a standard air-filled rubber tire presents all kinds of problems in space — particularly, what happens if it pops a flat.
So the first moon buggy used metal wheels with steel springs, which provide the supple give of a tire without any need to contain gas. The problem is that steel springs degrade and plastically deform over time, meaning that the wheel starts to lose its shape. In the same way that a Slinky wears out over time, NASA’s buggy wheels start to have problems with extended use.
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