According to what mission scientists said in today's Press conference (August 17), they have planned out the first long drive and science work for the
Rover. Over the next few of weeks, the rover plans to make its first major drive to an area scientists have nicknamed "Glenelg".
This image shows a closer view of the landing site of NASA's Curiosity rover and a destination nearby known as Glenelg. Curiosity landed inside
Gale Crater on Mars on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT) at the blue dot. It is planning on driving to an area marked with a red dot that is nicknamed Glenelg.
That area marks the intersection of three kinds of terrain. Starting clockwise from the top of this image, scientists are interested in this brighter
terrain because it may represent a kind of bedrock suitable for eventual drilling by Curiosity. The next terrain shows the marks of many small craters
and intrigues scientists because it might represent an older or harder surface. The third, which is the kind of terrain Curiosity landed in, is
interesting because scientists can try to determine if the same kind of rock texture at Goulburn, an area where blasts from the descent stage rocket
engines scoured away some of the surface, also occurs at Glenelg.
Part of the reason it will take a few weeks to get there is that this is Curiosity's first long drive, and they need to proceed cautiously, plus they
plan to stop along the way and do some other science (scoop up dirt, etc).
Glenelg is scientifically interesting because it seems to be an are where three different types of materials are coming together. You can see on the
image above that there is a brighter soil at the top, a darker and more cratered area to the bottom, and a darker area to the left, which contains the
gravely soil in which Curiosity landed.
The lightest material at the top is something scientists observed from orbital analysis of the area years ago that interests them, and that is areas
of "High Thermal Inertia", or areas that seem to retain, as seen in this image more heat than surrounding areas, as seen in this false-color image
(areas in red):
["Landing Site" annotations added by me]
Source and image description
After spending several weeks (or even a month+) at Glenelg, the Rover will be sent to the base of Mt. Sharp, to the southwest of the landing site, as
seen in this image scientists are calling the "Martian Treasure map" -- a trip that may take several months to complete:
Martian Treasure Map
...Then, the rover will aim to drive to the blue spot marked "Base of Mt. Sharp", which is a natural break in the dunes that will allow Curiosity to
begin scaling the lower reaches of Mount Sharp. At the base of Mt. Sharp are layered buttes and mesas that scientists hope will reveal the area's
Along the way, Curiosity will be drilling rocks, vaporizing rocks with its laser beam, and analyzing the materials...
...So anyway, it looks like a lot of cool science awaits!
edit on 8/17/2012 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)