Mars rover ready for long drive

2012-09-13 09:29
The Mars rover Curiosity is due to wrap up an exhaustive, weeks-long instrument check, clearing the way for its first lengthy drive. (Nasa, JPL-Caltech, MSSS, AP)

The Mars rover Curiosity is due to wrap up an exhaustive, weeks-long instrument check, clearing the way for its first lengthy drive. (Nasa, JPL-Caltech, MSSS, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pasadena - The Mars rover Curiosity was due to wrap up an exhaustive, weeks-long instrument check on Thursday, clearing the way for its first lengthy drive to determine whether the red planet has ever been hospitable to life, Nasa officials said.

The six-wheeled, nuclear-powered rover landed five weeks ago inside a giant impact basin called Gale Crater, near the Martian equator, to conduct Nasa's first astrobiology mission since the 1970s-era Viking probes.

For its final equipment check, Curiosity will manoeuvre its robot arm so its close-up camera touches the tray where processed rock and soil samples will be analysed.

The rover, equipped with an array of the most elaborate laboratory instruments ever sent to a distant world, also has a bit of sightseeing on its agenda. Scientists want to obtain video footage of the Martian moon Phobos passing by the sun.

Starting on Friday evening, the plan is to "drive, drive, drive" until scientists find a suitable rock for the rover's first robotic "hands-on" analysis, mission manager Jennifer Trosper told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday.

Life

It will stop when scientists find suitable soil to scoop up and run through Curiosity's onboard chemistry lab.

All the while, the rover will be heading toward a site scientists have labelled "Glenelg", where three different types of rock intersect. Glenelg, which lies about 400m away from Curiosity's current position, was named by mission geologists after a rock formation in northern Canada.

The overall purpose of the $2.5bn Mars Science Lab mission is to search for places where microbial organisms could have evolved and been preserved. In addition to ferreting out the chemical and geologic footprints of water, Curiosity will hunt for organic compounds and other ingredients believed to be necessary for life.

Curiosity, which is designed to last two years, will venture about 7km from its landing site to climb a 5km-high mound of layered rock rising from the floor of Gale Crater. Dubbed Mount Sharp, it is believed to be the remains of sediment that once filled the 154km basin.

The rover has racked up 109m on its odometer during test drives. Before setting out for Mount Sharp, scientists expect to drive Curiosity about 40m a day during its planned trek to Glenelg, with several stops for science observations.

Read more on:    nasa  |  space
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB

There are no straight lines in nature. The Samsung  GALAXY...

From R3525.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.