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NASA`s Curiosity Rover begins epic drive to Mars mountain

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - 09:43

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Nasa`s Curiosity Mars rover has finally hit the road and has begun its long awaited journey to reach its primary mission destination - foothills of Mount Sharp, a journey that will take months to complete. Mount Sharp is a mysterious mountain that rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the Red Planet sky.

Investigations had been on since the past seven months and were primarily centered around the site just east of its August 2012 touchdown point. The investigation included drilling rocks and analysing their composition.

Curiosity rover weighing 1-ton took its first steps toward the foothills of Mount Sharp on July 4 and then made another drive in that direction on Sunday (July 7), NASA officials said.

On Friday, engineers commanded the vehicle to make an 18m drive. On Monday it travelled 40m. Curiosity is headed toward a spot about 5 miles (8 km) away that will afford it’s access to Mount Sharp`s lower reaches. This particular area is the rover`s ultimate science destination; the mission team wants Curiosity to climb up through the mountain`s foothills.

Long bank of sand dunes might represent a potential trap for the rover. The intention also is to get to a specific site where satellites have indicated there are layers of sediment that were most likely laid down in water.

The estimated time to reach Mount Sharp might take a year according to Mission officials though they stress that there is no rigid timeline. Progress will depend on what Curiosity finds along the way, they say.

"We are on a mission of exploration," Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson, of NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told reporters last month. "If we come across scientifically interesting areas, we are going to stop and examine them before continuing the journey."

First Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - 09:42
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