The team operating NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is considering a path across a small sand dune to reach a favorable route to science destinations.
A favorable route would skirt some terrain with sharp rocks considered more likely to poke holes in the rover’s aluminum wheels.
While the team has been assessing ways to reduce wear and tear to the wheels, Curiosity has made progress toward a next site for drilling a rock sample and also toward its long-term destination: geological layers exposed on slopes of Mount Sharp. The rover has driven into a mapping quadrant that includes a candidate site for drilling. Meanwhile, testing on Earth is validating capabilities for drilling into rocks on slopes the rover will likely encounter on Mount Sharp. (more…)