Saturday Space Sight: Go West, Young Rover

The team operating NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover will likely drive the rover westward over a dune and across a valley with fewer sharp rock hazards than alternative routes.

A final decision on whether to pass through this valley will ride on evaluation of a short drive planned this week toward the top of the dune that lies across “Dingo Gap.”

curiosity_route

The dune is about 3 feet (1 meter) high at its center, tapered off at both sides of the gap between two low scarps. A color view assembled from images taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) on the east side of the dune shows details of the valley that the rover may traverse this month.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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