Mars rover heads east

2012-08-30 12:52

Los Angeles - Nasa's Curiosity rover has begun its first major drive across the surface of Mars, handling "beautifully" as it prepares to start some serious scientific work, the US space agency said.

The $2.5bn vehicle - which landed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet on 6 August - plans to drive 400m east, to a spot where it may use its drill for the first time, to bore into the Martian rock.

The rover trundled about 16m on Tuesday, its third drive and longer than its first two combined - positioning it to examine an area scoured by exhaust from the spacecraft engines that helped lower it to the ground.

It is pausing for about a day before heading off again on its eastwards trek, Nasa said in a written update.

"This drive really begins our journey toward the first major driving destination, Glenelg," said mission manager Arthur Amador of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.


"It's nice to see some Martian soil on our wheels... The drive went beautifully, just as our rover planners designed it," he added.

Glenelg is a location where three types of terrain intersect, and Nasa experts hope it will provide a first rock target for drilling and analysis.

"We are on our way, though Glenelg is still many weeks away," said Curiosity scientist John Grotzinger. "We plan to stop for just a day at the location we just reached, but in the next week or so we will make a longer stop."

During the longer stop, Nasa experts plan to test its robotic arm and instruments at the end of the arm.

On Wednesday's stop, the rover was taking pictures of its ultimate destination, the slopes of nearby Mount Sharp.

It will use these pictures and images taken from its landing spot, about 10m apart, to produce three-dimensional information about the landscape to help it decide which path to take towards the mountain.

On Tuesday, the Curiosity rover beamed back the first song to be broadcast from the Martian surface.

Reach for the Stars by musician was transmitted back to Earth as part of efforts to inspire more young people to get interested in science.

  • miehleketo.ndlovu - 2012-08-30 14:07


  • attie.mostert.9 - 2012-08-30 14:38

    Would love to see more picture :)

      JohanCduToit - 2012-08-30 15:44

  • morama.sebata - 2012-08-30 14:46

    This is wonderfull!!!

  • stephen.j.dickson.3 - 2012-08-30 16:24

    What an anti-clmax having a song by psuedo muso Will I Am beamed back to Earth. I would of thought that an epic like Homeworld by Yes or Cygnus X-1 Book 2 : Hemispheres ( basically the story of the Universe inside of 20 minutes) by Canadian power trio Rush would of been more appropriate. But then again,most of the kids of today are just mindless,rap loving morons with no respect for their elders...........bottom line.

      hondbyt - 2012-08-30 23:22

      I am not a big fan of his music as well but I will have you know that Will I Am is doing a tremendous part in promoting science education and getting kids more involved and attracted to projects like these with his newly created organisations, The Peapod Foundation and he's also involved in a new TV show called "Science is Rock & Roll!". Give the lyrics a good listen and the song might just grow on you, I know it did on me...

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