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NASA maps out proposed travel plans for Curiosity, decides to head for the hills

James Trew, @itstrew
August 19, 2012
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As the vista on Mars gradually gets ever clearer, and the system checks continue to show that the rover is in good stead, the team behind Curiosity will be increasingly eager to stretch its legs wheels. The first trip might be just a cautious few meters, but plans for a more adventurous jaunt have just been revealed. The first location in Curiosity's sights is an area referred to as Glenelg, which, based on initial pictures, offers three different geological characteristics, as well as potentially being an area where water used to be present. The site is only 1,300 feet (400 meters) from where the rover landed, but it could still take several weeks to get there. This is merely a quick dash compared to the next leg of its journey, which sees Curiosity heading out to an area called Mount Sharp -- a large mound of layered rock which is hoped to contain visible geology potentially dating back millions of years. With seven kilometers (4.4 miles) lying between the rover and the mountain's foothills, it'll be a much longer journey, but one that could provide the first real evidence of the planet's ability to host, or have hosted, life.

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