|NASA's Curiosity to drive its first time at Bradbury Landing|
|Tuesday, 09 October 2012 08:42|
NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity, has taken its first ever short test drive on the unseen Martian surface. After further testing, NASA’s scientists believe that it's almost ready to head out on its 2 year mission to scour the Martian land in search of previous, past or potential life that is available.
"I'm pleased to report that Curiosity today had her first successful drive on Mars," said Matt Heverly. Matt Heverly is NASA's engineer for mobility systems for the rover. "This drive checkout, coupled with yesterday's wheel checkout means we have a fully functioning drive system on the rover."
As Heverly was speaking during a news conference in the afternoon, he said that the rover drove forward a few meters, turned in place and drove back. This is very thrilling for the NASA team. Heverly also announced that the short drive allowed researchers to come to the thought that the rover is on ground which is firm, and hasn’t got too much sinkage.
The drive today was short, but it was a critical step about how Curiosity will move over the foreign surface. "It couldn't be more important," said the Curiosity project manager, Peter Theisinger, "We built a rover. Unless the rover roves, we really haven't accomplished anything. The fact that everything is on track is a moment… a big moment."
The American science fiction writer Ray Bradbury will always be remembered as NASA named Curiosity's landing site "Bradbury Landing," using his last name for the landing site.
Michael Mayer is a mission scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mayer said that all his peers wanted to give honor to the man who wrote The Martian Chronicles causing many to be inspired and be curious about space exploration – what is out there and Mars specifically.
Now that the Curiosity drive milestone is complete, it can be put behind them to carry on with its mission. NASA engineers aren't going to be wasting time ramping up the science with Curiosity.
Roger Wiens is a scientist down at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a lead investigator on the Curiosity team. He exclusively reported that just days after the rover's had fired its laser for the first time; Curiosity had zapped several more rock targets giving analysis of each of them.
So far, the analysis of the makeup of the different rocks shows they're all very similar.
Curiosity has been able to take a few all-day and all-night weather readings due to all the instruments aboard the rover.
Within time, the researchers who are helping with the curiosity rover will focus on several different instruments and function tests upon the rover. This is including two days of doing atmospheric readings, taking long-range 3D images with the Mast cam and checking the alignment of the laser. Scientists are also planning to use the rover to spend a few days going over to examine the scour marks that Curiosity's landing engines made in the soil.
Once the scientists say the tests are complete, NASA engineers will focus on their next milestone which is the task of driving Curiosity to Glenelg.
Glenelg is an area of interest because three different terrains are there. Teach will get examined and is about 400 meters from Curiosity's landing spot. It will take a few days of effort from the engineers to get there.
NASA’s engineers hope that the the rover will encounter some fine soil which it will be able to scoop up. If the soil is found, the rover will spend a few weeks in that location. It will scoop and discard some samples at first to ensure the scoop is clear of any debris it may have picked up during landing which could lead to false results. After that process, it will start to scoop more soil and analyze it.