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Curiosity's first tire tracks on Mars  (Source:
NASA engineers also named the Curiosity landing site after the late author Ray Bradbury

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity took its first drive across Martian terrain this week in another round of successful tests for the car-sized space traveler.

Curiosity took part in a series of tests where it performed forward, reverse and turn segments. It moved about 20 feet total from its landing site.

"Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers," said Pete Theisinger, Curiosity project manager. "The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious national resource with appropriate care."

The Mars rover's latest successful test runs demonstrates its healthy status, and shows that it's ready for the next round of tests. Curiosity will take part in several more days of testing, where the use of its various instruments will be the next on the list.

In addition to Curiosity's small trek on Mars, NASA engineers are also celebrating the new name they've given Curiosity's landing site -- Bradbury Landing.

The landing site was named after author Ray Bradbury, who wrote fantasy and science fiction stories (many about Mars). He died June 5 of this year.

"This was not a difficult choice for the science team," said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. "Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars."

NASA rover Curiosity is a one-ton, nuclear-powered, six-wheeled machine that is also known as the Mars Science Laboratory -- because that's exactly what it is. It was made to explore Martian territory for a two-year period in hopes of discovering that the planet once harbored materials needed for life. The project cost $2.5 billion.

Curiosity launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars August 6, 2012 at 1:32 a.m. It was a tricky landing procedure, but it was a success and Curiosity's testing has also turned out well so far. In fact, the rover recently zapped its first rock on Mars using its laser.

Once testing is complete, Curiosity will drive 1,300 feet to the east-southeast for its first official destination for exploration.

Source: NASA

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By Dr of crap on 8/24/12, Rating: 0
RE: Maybe
By JediJeb on 8/24/2012 10:35:58 AM , Rating: 2
Since it takes several minutes to send a command, several minutes to receive any data back from what that command did, and time for that command to be executed, it takes a while to even test something simple such as move forward.

If something got wired wrong and you tell it turn right and instead it turns left, and you just tell it to turn right and go forward at full speed, by the time you figure out it went the wrong way, you have wasted a lot of time and energy doing something wrong.

Plus all of the motor sensors must be checked and recalibrated if they are out of calibration after the trip. Same with all of the spectrometers and other testing equipment. I know here in the lab we check and calibrate our spectrometers daily or even every 12 hours to compensate for drift, I can only imagine what it must be like to keep those instruments in calibration in such an uncontrolled environment as Mars would be.

RE: Maybe
By guffwd13 on 8/24/2012 12:15:01 PM , Rating: 4
wait wait wait. are you really questioning the work ethic and geekiness of the people that designed this ridiculously awesome technological marvel? don't you think they'd be working as fast as possible after waiting years for this moment?

as it is i'm pretty sure they want to make sure all systems are a go and function properly despite what its sensors say. sheesh man, the power plant has a 27 1/2 year half life. given the time, effort and money put into this, wouldn't you want to make sure you didn't waste it by being hasty?

RE: Maybe
By TheNuts on 8/24/2012 1:01:43 PM , Rating: 4
How is your rover on Mars doing nowadays?

RE: Maybe
By Belard on 8/24/2012 8:03:19 PM , Rating: 2
As the others have pointed out. It takes time for information to get to the Rover and back. The point of these past few rovers is that THEY are given instructions and are able to go on their own. They are not remote control cars that stop on a dime. They have software which helps navigate their orders.

They MUST make sure everything works before the thing does anything serious. A damaged or defective part will require a possible work-around.

The memory and CPU power is limited, it doesn't play Crysis.
Something like an intel i5-2500K CPU would never survive the trip to Mars. There is such a thing as Space Grade technology. At the most, the CPUs are about as powerful as a Cell Phone. The data that is sent is compressed and limited.

There are reasons why we have people working on such projects like this and NOT you. :) Don't take that as an insult... I'm not qualified to work for JPL either.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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