News / Science & Technology

Curiosity Rover to Switch Gears on Mars

Artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover
Artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover
Suzanne Presto
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission is shifting gears. The Curiosity rover is going to take a break from drilling into Martian bedrock and analyzing rock samples to do what Mars rovers are made to do: drive across the terrain.

The U.S. space agency says this will be the biggest turning point since Curiosity landed on the Red Planet last August.

Martian Mission

Curiosity is exploring within a deep, 150-kilometer-wide depression called Gale Crater so that scientists can learn about the area's environmental history. The rover soon will shift into distance-driving mode to make the 8-kilometer trek to the base of a Martian peak called Mount Sharp. Scientists picked this target because they expect the mountain's layers to offer clues about the way the Martian environment evolved.

The journey to Mount Sharp is expected to take many months, and mission scientists note that the rover will investigate interesting features along the way.

Progress report

Members of the Mars Science Laboratory team based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California gave reporters an update about the rover's activities.

Joy Crisp, the deputy project scientist, described the decision to stop sampling and start moving as "one of the classic struggles" the science team faces. 

"The team has decided that it really is a good time now to turn around and start making progress to Mount Sharp," she said.    

The mission's main objective - to see if ancient Mars had environmental conditions that could have supported micro-organisms - already has been accomplished. Earlier this year, scientists said a rock sample from an area known as Yellowknife Bay contained some key chemical ingredients needed for life, including oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. Martian bedrock showed evidence of multiple periods of wet conditions.

The nuclear-powered Curiosity is investigating Martian geology, weather and radiation levels during its two-year, $2.5 billion mission.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid