Curiosity update: rover given its first mission, prepares to test its lasers and move its wheels

NASA Curiosity Rover mars self portrait

The Mars Science Laboratory — better known as the Curiosity rover — has been sitting in its landing zone in Mars’ Gale Crater for over 12 days since its successful landing, and it is now getting ready to make its first baby steps on the Martian surface. Over the next few days, the rover will move its wheels for the first time: it’ll turn them side-to-side before driving forward 10 feet and then moving seven feet in reverse. The test is in preparation for Curiosity’s first mission: a 1,300 foot (400 meter) expedition to a spot that’s being called “Glenelg,” which was chosen because it’s where three different types of terrain meet. Glenelg is a three- to four-weeks’ journey in the wrong direction from the rover’s primary destination…

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