NASA's Curiosity Rover landed on Mars a couple of weeks ago, and has since spent its time upgrading its software and making sure its instruments are in tip-top shape. But with a name like Curiosity, it's not going to be satisfied hanging out in one spot for long.
Accordingly, NASA has announced the selection of Curiosity's first destination: Glenelg, an intersection of different kinds of Martian terrain only 1,300 feet from the rover's landing spot:
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"With such a great landing spot in Gale Crater, we literally had every degree of the compass to choose from for our first drive," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger in a press release. "We had a bunch of strong contenders. It is the kind of dilemma planetary scientists dream of, but you can only go one place for the first drilling for a rock sample on Mars. That first drilling will be a huge moment in the history of Mars exploration."
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Before heading off on its first trek across the Martian surface, the rover will also test its high-powered rock-zapping laser -- the most powerful laser ever fired on an alien world.
Curiosity will also exercise each of its four steerable wheels and test moving in both gears: forward and reverse.
"There will be a lot of important firsts that will be taking place for Curiosity over the next few weeks, but the first motion of its wheels, the first time our roving laboratory on Mars does some actual roving, that will be something special," said Michael Watkins, mission manager for Curiosity.
After Curiosity checks out Glenelg, it will head to its primary mission target of Mount Sharp, a three-mile-high mound of layered Martian rock:
Are you excited about the potential discoveries awaiting Curiosity? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo Credit: NASA
This story originally published on Mashable here.