Mars rover completes first test drive

Aug. 22, 2012 at 7:04 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Aug. 22 (UPI) -- NASA says its Mars rover Curiosity drove away from its landing site Wednesday, which scientists announced they have named for the late author Ray Bradbury.

In its first movement on the martian surface, Curiosity moved forward, turned and then reversed, ending up 20 feet from the spot where it landed 16 days ago, now dubbed Bradbury Landing, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said.

NASA said it approved the Curiosity science team's choice to name the landing ground for the influential author, who was born 92 years ago Wednesday and died this year.

"This was not a difficult choice for the science team," Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity, said. "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."

The test drive confirmed the health of Curiosity's mobility system and produced the rover's first wheel tracks on Mars, captured in images taken after the drive

Curiosity will spend several more days working beside Bradbury Landing, project scientists said, performing instrument checks and studying its surroundings before heading for its first driving destination about 1,300 feet to the east-southeast.

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