The rover sent to Mars - Curiosity has completed its first drive, NASA scientists announced today.
Scientists have also confirmed that it will be capable for Curiosity to move 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 today’s news conference. “The fact that we completely exercised it, and everything was on track, is a big moment.”
Situated in Gale Crater, Curiosity drove forward, turned a whole 120 degrees, backed itself up and clicked pictures to be sent back. The whole process took about 16 minutes but the driving itself was probably about four to five minutes.
Curioisty’s next destination will be Glenelg, which is about 400 meters east-southeast from its landing site. This area consists of three types of terrain including the layered bedrock which is being eyed as a place for Curiosity to drill.
Mount Sharp, which was formed over time from hundreds of rock layers, will be the next destination. The mountain is about 3 miles high and the rover aims to test its different layers for signs that life could have once existed on Mars. It may take about a year for the rover to reach this target.