Friday, July 12, 2013

Third Drive of Curiosity's Long Trek Covers 135 Feet

Lower slopes of Mount Sharp appear at the top of this image taken by the right Navigation Camera (Navcam) of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity at the end of a drive of about 135 feet (41 meters) during the 329th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (July 9, 2013). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drove 135 feet (41 meters) on Tuesday, July 9, the third drive of a journey of many months from the "Glenelg" area to Mount Sharp. Last week, the mission finished investigating science targets in the Glenelg area, about 500 yards (half a kilometer) east of where Curiosity landed. The mission's next major destination is at the lower layers of Mount Sharp, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) southwest of Glenelg.

The July 9 drive brought Curiosity's odometry to about 325 feet (99 meters) since completing the Glenelg investigations and about 0.51 mile (0.95 kilometer) since landing on Mars in August 2012.

Mount Sharp, in the middle of Gale Crater, exposes many layers where scientists anticipate finding evidence about how the ancient Martian environment changed and evolved. At targets in the Glenelg area, where Curiosity worked for the first half of 2013, the rover found evidence for an ancient wet environment that had conditions favorable for microbial life. This means the mission already has accomplished its main science objective.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover.

Credit: NASA

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