Last week, Mars rover Curiosity began a months-long journey to the base of a Martian mountain named Mount Sharp. This week, NASA revealed that the rover has driven 135 feet (41 meters) closer to its destination. Combined with the 59 foot (18 meter) and 131 foot (40 meter) drives the rover performed last week, Curiosity has now traveled 325 feet (99 meters) along its 5-mile (8 kilometer) journey toward Mount Sharp. The rover has also now driven close to 0.51 miles (0.95 kilometers) total since landing on Mars in August 2012.
Curiosity will spend several months on its trek to Mount Sharp, stopping along the way to investigate any interesting geological features researchers find. The rover is coming from an area named Glenelg, where the rover has spend most of its first 10 months on Mars. The area is where Curiosity first scooped soil samples for analysis and drilled its first rock to create rock powder. During its short mission, the rover has already discovered evidence that Mars once had surface conditions favorable for primitive life – the primary science goal for the mission.
Mount Sharp lies in the center of Gale Crater, the site of Curiosity’s landing. Researchers are hoping that the mountain will have multiple layers that can provide evidence for how the Martian landscape has changed throughout its history.
(Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)