Today the controllers of Curiosity commanded the rover to make its first short drive on the surface of Mars. This followed some test movements of all the steerable wheels to check they were operating correclty before the first forward motion was undertaken.
Although the ultimate destination of Curiosity is the 5.5km tall Mount Sharp, the first scientific target for the rover will be an area approximately 400m to the east which appears to be an intersection of 3 distinct types of geology. This area will be studied using Curiosity’s laser spectroscope and its onboard soil analysis laboratory.
Curiosity has been designed for a minimal 2 year mission, although this is expected to be extended provided no mechanical problems develop as the rover ages. It is anticipated Curiosity could cover as much as 20km over the Martian surface before the mission finally ends.