Curiosity Rover Steps Out

Curiosity Rover Steps Out

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover took a short drive yesterday to test its systems and relocate to a slightly different spot.

Curiosity landed on August 5, 2012 PDT (August 6 EDT) and its operators are slowly but surely checking out and testing its systems and instruments before starting the main trek over to Mount Sharp.  The rover landed at the bottom of Gale Crater that surrounds Mount Sharp.  The top of Mount Sharp, about three miles above the crater’s floor, can be thought of as being essentially at the Mars equivalent of “sea level.”  NASA is basically taking advantage of an excavation of the Martian surface by Mother Nature to gain access to many layers of Martian soil that hold evidence of the planet’s evolution over the eons.  Curiosity’s goal is to provide answers about the habitability of Mars — whether microbial life could have developed there in the past.

Yesterday Curiosity moved about 15 feet forward, turned 120 degrees, and then backed up about 8 feet.   The tracks it created show clearly in this image released by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).


Image credit:  NASA/Caltech-JPL

The rover ended up about 20 feet away from where it originally landed, a location now named Bradbury Landing after legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury who was born 92 years ago yesterday and died earlier this year.  One of his best known works is The Martian Chronicles.

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