NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, which hasn't yet moved from its landing spot, is set to make its first tracks on the Red Planet on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Curiosity rover is set to make its first tracks on the Red Planet Tuesday or Wednesday (Aug. 21 or 22), mission team members said. The maiden drive will be something of a test, so the 1-ton robot won't be allowed to stretch its legs right off the bat.
"Basically, we want to drive the wheels more than one rev in both directions," said Jeff Biesiadecki of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., one of Curiosity's 16 drivers. "What we've got sketched out right now is about a 4-meter drive forward, and about a 90-degree turn in place, and a couple meters backwards."
The first drive will come close on the heels of Curiosity's first laser beam test fire on Mars, which occurred Sunday (Aug. 19). The $2.5 billion rover blasted a small stone to try out its ChemCam instrument, which determines the composition of Red Planet rocks by studying their vaporized bits.