The Curiosity rover has tested its nose and cleared its throat, and is set to start its journey toward its first potential drilling target over the coming days, scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Monday.
In a message broadcast from the Mars Science Laboratory rover at its landing site in Gale Crater, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden congratulated the mission team in La Cañada-Flintridge on the successful Aug. 5 landing.
“This is an extraordinary achievement,” Bolden said in the recording (originally sent to the rover from Earth). “Landing a rover on Mars is not easy. Others have tried; only America has fully succeeded.”
The scientists displayed new images of the rover’s ultimate target: the base of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-high mound in the middle of Gale Crater that scientists believe holds a record of the planet’s history, and potentially even some of the ingredients for life.
Mount Sharp’s base features well-defined layers in patterns reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, project scientist John Grotzinger said Monday at a news conference.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” Grotzinger said, indicating the watercolor layers.
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