Curiosity rover leaves Mars landing site for first time

The Curiosity rover has finally left its landing site on the surface of Mars, beginning a journey for science. The trek that lies ahead of the rover will last for weeks, and will eventually end at Glenelg, the first major spot NASA scientists want Curiosity to explore. Curiosity has already completely the first part of this 400 meter trip, driving 52 feet before stopping to look around.

That stop only lasted for about a day, but it isn't the only stop NASA has planned before Curiosity reaches Glenelg. In about a week, the rover will make another stop at a still-undetermined location, and it will be staying there longer to test out its robotic arm and some of the other instruments it has on board. Once it reaches Glenelg, the rover will be buckling down for awhile, and it's there that scientists will put Curiosity's drill to work for the first time.

Glenelg is of interest to NASA because it's there that three different types of terrain meet. NASA stands to learn a lot from what Curiosity finds there, and even though NASA is planning to have the rover spend a significant amount of time Glenelg, that isn't the rover's intended final destination. The rover's goal is to eventually make it the base of Mount Sharp, where it will study minerals to see if they were ever exposed to liquid water. The journey to Mount Sharp is going to be quite the trek, as Curiosity's target lies 6 miles away from its landing zone.

For now, however, Curiosity is taking baby steps. That 52-foot drive completed earlier this week is the longest distance Curiosity has driven since landing on Mars, but it has a whole lot of land to cover between now and when it eventually gets to Mount Sharp. With Curiosity now on its way to Glenelg, we should have more updates for you in the coming weeks, so keep it tuned here to SlashGear for more details!

[via NASA]