Road trip: NASA’s Curiosity rover sets off across surface of Mars

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 4:21 PM EDT
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(CNN/Gray News) – Unlike most of us homebound folks on Earth, NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has a summer road trip planned despite the coronavirus.

It’s a short trip, just about a mile. But the slow-moving rover won’t get to where it’s going on Mount Sharp until the fall.

At top speed, Curiosity rolls along at between 82 and 328 feet per hour, according to NASA.

Part of the trip will be completed with the rover on autopilot.

“Curiosity can’t drive entirely without humans in the loop,” said Matt Gildner, the lead rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “But it does have the ability to make simple decisions along the way to avoid large rocks or risky terrain. It stops if it doesn’t have enough information to complete a drive on its own.”

NASS is exploring Mount Sharp to learn the story about how the Martian climate changed from being Earth-like with bodies of water and a thicker atmosphere to the nearly airless, freezing desert it is today.

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