After over six months exploring the Glenelg area of Gale Crater on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover is on the move. The nuclear-powered robot began a months-long drive on July 4, which will take it to Mount Sharp to fulfill the major part of its its two-year mission to seek out areas where life could have, or still could, exist on the Red Planet.
It’s been 324 Martian days since Curiosity landed in a dramatic maneuver last August. Since then, it’s carried out an extended exploration of the Glenelg area. There, it found geological features, such as ancient streambeds and minerals that indicate an ancient wet environment where life could have survived. According to NASA, these discoveries mean that Curiosity has already accomplished its main science objective.
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On July 4, the 4X4-sized rover left the sedimentary outcrop called "Shaler" at Glenelg and began its journey, which will take nine months to a year, with a 59 ft (18 m) drive. This was followed on July 7 by a second drive of 131 ft (40 m).
Its destination is the lower reaches of Mount Sharp, about five miles (8 km) away, where scientists believe there are many exposed layers of rock that may hold evidence about ancient Mars and how its environment has changed over time.
In addition to leaving Glenelg, Rover also captured video of the Martian moon Phobos passing overhead on June 28, which you can see below.