After playing in the giant sandbox that is Mars for more than a month, the Curiosity rover is on the move again, searching for a rock to drill into, scientists said.
The six-wheel rover has been parked for more than a month at a sand dune where it has been busy scooping up soil, sniffing the atmosphere and measuring radiation levels on the surface. Its next task is to zero in on a rock, and that requires driving to a new location.
“It’s the bedrock which really gives you the story of ancient Mars,” said scientist Ashwin Vasavada of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $2.5 billion mission.
The car-size rover touched down in Gale Crater, an ancient depression near the Martian equator, in August, starting a two-year mission to try to figure out if the site could ever have supported microbes. Armed with some very high-tech equipment, Curiosity is the most sophisticated spacecraft to ever land on the Red Planet.