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Curiosity Makes Tracks On Mars
Posted by Colleen Park on Aug 22, 2012 - 4:08:45 PM

Curiosity takes a journey of 20 feet across the Mars surface. This image was taken by Rear Hazcam: Left A (RHAZ_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 16 (2012-08-22 14:25:05 UTC). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
PASADENA—Curiosity has begun making tracks on Mars, as NASA’s rover drives 20 feet from its landing site. It’s a short run, and practice for its upcoming 1,300 feet journey east and southeastward, according to a press release from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. on Aug. 22.

"We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing exploration ahead," said lead rover driver Matt Heverly in the press release.

The newest Mars rover landed on the red planet 16 days ago, after the well-documented “Seven Minutes of Terror,” getting the rover to the Martian rover safely without any direct control from NASA operators. Its exploration of Mars will involve testing environmental conditions for the possibility of sustaining microbial life.

"Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers. The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious national resource with appropriate care," said Curiosity Project Manager Pete Theisinger of JPL. "Sixteen days in, we are making excellent progress."

Also marked among NASA’s announcements is the name of Curiosity’s landing site on Mars, “Bradbury Landing,” after notable science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who died earlier this year at the age of 92 and would have celebrated his birthday on the announcement date. Bradbury wrote many novels and short stories set in Mars such as “The Martian Chronicles” and “Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed.”

"Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars," said Michael Meyer, a NASA program scientist for Curiosity.


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