The Mars rover Curiosity has completed its first drive, NASA scientists announced Wednesday, proving that it’s capable of moving farther afield on the Red Planet.
“It couldn’t be more important. We built a rover, so unless the rover roves, we really haven’t accomplished anything,” said Curiosity Project Manager Pete Theisinger at Wednesday's news conference. “The fact that we completely exercised it, and everything was on track, is a big moment.”
Curiosity, situated in Gale Crater, drove forward, turned in place 120 degrees, and backed up. The process took about 16 minutes, including photo-taking, Heverly said, but the driving itself was probably about four to five minutes.
Now that the rover has gotten a “learner’s permit” of sorts, its next destination will be Glenelg, which is 400 meters (1,300 feet) east-southeast from its landing site. This area has three types of terrain, including layered bedrock, which scientists are eying as a place for Curiosity to drill.
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The @MarsCuriosity team has released a beautiful, high-definition video of the Curiosity rover landing on the surface of Mars on August 6. This is no simulation: it's a rover's-eye-view of the Red Planet's surface zooming up to meet it.
Need to catch up on the details of the latest mission to Mars? Check out all our Curiosity coverage!