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Saturday, 18 August 2012

NASA Selects the First Driving Target of "Curiosity"

  Scientists from NASA's Curiosity rover mission have selected an intersection of three different terrains as the first driving destination for car-size, one-tonne rover on Mars.
  The target area, named Glenelg is 1,300 feet east-southeast of the Rover's landing site in Gale Carter.  "With such a great landing spot in Gale Crater, we literally had every degree of the compass to choose from for our first drive," Curiosity Principal Investigator John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology said in a NASA statement.
  "We had a bunch of strong contenders.  It is the kind of  dilemma planetary scientists dream of, but you can only go one place for the first drilling for a rock sample on Mars. That first drilling will be a huge moment in the history of Mars exploration," Grotzinger said.
  One of the three types of terrain intersecting at Glenelf is layered bedrock, which is attractive as the first drilling target.
  We are about to load our new destination into our GPS and head out onto the open road, our challenge is there is no GPS on Mars, so we have a roomful of Rover-driver engineers providing our-turn-by-turn navigation for us"he added.
   Tonight, Chemcam is expected to 'Zap' its first rock in the name of planetary science.  It will be the first time such a powerful laser has been used on the surface of another world.
  "There will be a lot of important firsts that will be taking place for Curiosity over the next few weeks, but the first motion of its wheels, the first time our roving laboratory on Mars does some actual roving, that will be something special," said Michale Watkins, mission manager for curiosity from the JPL in Pasadena, California.

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