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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Are We There Yet?

the Curiosity rover drives toward Mount Sharp

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, September 12, 2013/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, adventure

Any parent who has traveled with kids to the beach, the mountains, or a cabin, knows the refrain "are we there yet?" as being hardwired into their DNA. Typically the answer is NO and disappoint ensues.

We could ask a similar question of the JPL rover, Curiosity , as it ambles towards the massive mountain, Mount Sharp, on Mars. In this case, we're not too disappointed as the remarkable robot has just clocked in its longest one-day drive of 464 feet towards its destination. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech made this announcement when Curiosity reached a panoramic view-point on its trek towards the mountain.

Curiosity's "Panorama Point" on Mars  (credit: JPL)

Five way-points have been selected along Curiosity's route this year and on to the lower rock layers of Mount Sharp, the rover's major destination. At the first stop, Curiosity found evidence of an ancient environment favorable for microbial life. This was accomplished by analyzing powder drilled from rock outcrops at a depression called "Yellowknife Bay."

John Grotzinger at CalTech said: "We want to know how the rocks at Yellowknife Bay are related to what we'll see at Mount Sharp and we get that from the way-points between them to stitch together a timeline -- which layers are older, which are younger."

Curiosity hasn't reached Mount Sharp yet but we're getting there.



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