NASA's Curiosity makes first drive on red planet

Thursday, August 23, 2012
[PHOTO: NASA/JPL-Caltech] 
Washington: The​​ U.S. Mars rover Curiosity has successfully completed its first drive on the Red Planet "Mars".

NASA engineer Matt Heverly said the rover drove 4.5 meters Wednesday, rotated and backed up 2.5 meters.

He said the drive confirmed that the soil on the planet is firm.

Pictures from the Mars rover showed tire tracks made during the drive. NASA says the rover has completed taking several soil samples from the planet's surface, with everything "going extremely well."

Curiosity is loaded with instruments to investigate the Martian geology, weather and radiation levels. It is on a two-year, $2.5-
billion mission to help investigate whether life ever existed on Mars or could do so in the future.

Curiosity began a two-year prime mission on Mars when the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered the car-size rover to its landing target inside Gale Crater on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT).

The mission will use 10 science instruments on the rover to assess whether the area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.
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