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Curiosity Starts Driving 35

littlesparkvt tips news that the Curiosity Mars rover began driving today at Bradbury Landing in Gale Crater. The rover rolled forward about 4.5 meters, then stopped, rotated 120 degrees, and rolled another 2.5 meters. The article has a picture of the rover's tracks in the Martian dust, and you can browse the image gallery or raw image feed for more. Matt Heverly, the rover's lead driver, confirmed that the mobility system is functioning perfectly in the lead-up to its first major land trek. "Curiosity will spend several more days of working beside Bradbury Landing, performing instrument checks and studying the surroundings, before embarking toward its first driving destination approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) to the east-southeast." Reader redletterdave adds news that NASA has released an enhanced video of Curiosity's descent from space, which is pretty cool to watch. There was also some minor bad news yesterday; one of the wind speed sensors on the REMS weather instruments was permanently damaged during landing. Emily Lakdawalla explains,"The reason there were two is that it helped triangulate wind speed and also improve accuracy of wind speed measurements when one of the booms is aimed windward or leeward. So the quality of the wind speed data will be harmed, but there will still be wind speed data."

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Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert