The Curiosity rover has just taken its first short drive since landing a couple weeks ago, a test run of its mobility systems. Moving about 6 metres (20 feet) from its landing spot, the rover created its first wheel tracks in the gravelly soil, a major and critical accomplishment.
“Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers. The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious national resource with appropriate care,” according to Project Manager Pete Theisinger of JPL. “Sixteen days in, we are making excellent progress,” he adds.
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