Credit: NASA/JPL

Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA has announced that the Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet’s Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater. That’s the rover mission’s long-term prime destination.

Curiosity’s trek up the mountain will begin with an examination of the mountain’s lower slopes.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on September 9, 2014, Sol 744 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 13:57:44 UTC. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, on September 9, 2014, Sol 744 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 13:57:44 UTC.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In late 2013, the Curiosity team realized a region of Martian terrain littered with sharp, embedded rocks was poking holes in four of the rover’s six wheels.

This damage accelerated the rate of wear and tear beyond that for which the rover team had planned.

In response, the team altered the rover’s route to a milder terrain, bringing the rover farther south, toward the base of Mount Sharp.

This image shows the planned route (in yellow) of NASA's Curiosity rover from “Pahrump Hills” at the base of Mount Sharp, through the "Murray Formation," and south to the hematite ridge further up the flank of Mount Sharp.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

This image shows the planned route (in yellow) of NASA’s Curiosity rover from “Pahrump Hills” at the base of Mount Sharp, through the “Murray Formation,” and south to the hematite ridge further up the flank of Mount Sharp.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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