First NASA had to build it. Then the guys and girls at the Jet Propulsion Lab had to land it in seven minutes of terror. Then they had to move around and find habitable surroundings. Now, the next phase of the Curiosity Rover’s mission is about to get underway, and NASA wants to explain it to you.
Basically, it involves navigating a mini-van up a giant mountain on an alien planet. Nothing serious.
Curiosity will now start climbing Mount Sharp in the Gale Crater, near where the Curiosity Rover first landed. To give you some perspective, Gale Crater is the size of the island of Hawaii, and Mount Sharp is higher than any mountain in the continental United States.
The bold rover has already explored some of this alien environment, and now it’s driving through rugged terrain to reach a small valley in a place called Murray Buttes. We say small, each butte is around 10 metres high and the length and width of a football pitch. There’s actually a small road-like path cut through the valley, and that’s what Curiosity will drive up to reach Mount Sharp.
There are massive sand dunes between Curiosity and its path up the valley towards Mount Sharp, and NASA don’t feel comfortable driving the rover over them for fear of getting it stuck. You can’t exactly call the NRMA or roadside assistance on Mars if you roll your rover or get it bogged.
As you watch every video and look at every image from the Curiosity Rover you realise