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Mars Curiosity leaves its landing area, heads to distant frontier a quarter-mile away

Steve Dent , @stevetdent

Now that Curiosity has survived its thrill-a-minute landing and passed an upgrade and physical with (nearly) flying colors, the rover is off to earn its $2 billion keep. The trip started well, with the buggy driving 52 feet towards its first science site "beautifully, just as our rover planners designed it," according to NASA. The destination, Glenelg, is 1,500 feet away from the now-familiar Bradbury Landing where it first set down, which is pretty far for a rover that treks along at about a tenth of a mile per hour. On top of that, its minders have some stops in mind to test instruments -- meaning it'll arrive there in about two weeks. Once at Glenelg, Curiosity will scope the unusual geology of the region, though its principal destination for science is Mount Sharp, a relatively vast six miles away. Don't worry about it running out of gas, though -- the nuclear power supply will last a full Martian year, or 687 earth days.