The Curiosity Rover is getting ready to take its first road trip on Mars. NASA has announced travel plans for the $2.5 billion mobile lab.
The Curiosity Rover landed in the large Gale Crater on the red planet on August 6. Curiosity is on a two year mission to find any signs of possible life on the planet.
Curiosity in conducting instrument and wheel tests for a few weeks, but it will soon be on the movie.
One of the first sites that the one-ton rover will visit in a geologically-rich area called "Glenelg." This site is 550 years from the rover's landing site. Scientists want to inspect the area because it contains three types of terrain. The site was named after a northern Canadian rock formation.
Even though the site is nearby, the trip could take three to four weeks. Curiosity isn't a speed demon. The rover can only move 1.5 inches per second, or about 0.0823 miles per hour.
Once it reaches Glenelg, Curiosity will spend about six weeks using drills, scoops, cameras and lasers to examine rocks and soil that may show signs of conditions that could have supported life on the planet.
"Probably we'll do a month worth of science there, maybe a little bit more," lead mission scientist John Grotzinger said as quoted by the Chicago Tribune. "Sometime toward the end of the calendar year, roughly, I would guess then we would turn our sights toward the trek to Mount Sharp."
The main goal of Curiosity's journey is the base of Mount Sharp. This is a three-mile high mountain that rises from the floor of Gale Crater. Rover will make a 4.3 mile trek to the site which could take months.
The map below shows both of the planned travel sites. The image was taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.