The Mars Curiosity rover might have traveled at 13,200 miles per hour to get there, but now that it’s on Mars, it’s taking days just to go a few feet.
The most complex and powerful rover ever launched to Mars is now moving east, just a few feet per day, toward a treasure trove of geological data. Armed with nuclear-powered tools, it will soon begin drilling into ancient rock, and vaporizing the dust, to determine whether the Glenelg area of Mars had the right conditions to harbor ancient life. It will take weeks to arrive, but the journey has begun.
Mission manager Arthur Amador is pretty geeked-out about his $2.5 billion dollar remote controlled car, saying, “This drive really begins our journey toward the first major driving destination, Glenelg, and it’s nice to see some Martian soil on our wheels.”
“The drive went beautifully, just as our rover planners designed it.”
The destination is a part of the 4th rock from the sun where three types of terrain intersect, giving scientists an unprecedented opportunity to learn a lot in a little time.
The latest test on the rover was analyzing the Martian atmosphere and more driving. It’s sort of like rolling down the window when you get to the mountains, but knowing that you’re not quite at your vacation cabin just yet.
The rover has powerful ties to northern California, including a UC Davis geologist who will be at the controls, and Rancho Cordova’s Aerojet, which made many of the engines that helped maneuver it to an astonishingly complex multi-stage landing.