August 14, 2012 8:52 pm
NASA plans a first test-drive of its Mars rover Curiosity for next Tuesday, the start of a year-long trek to the foothills of a nearby Martian mountain.
The canyons and buttes of Mount Sharp beckon the $2.5 billion rover, some 5 miles away from the rover’s Aug. 6 landing site. The rover is halfway through tests of its 10 science instruments, and has completed an “intellect upgrade” of its steering computers, says mission engineer Jim Donaldson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
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