The U.S. Mars rover Curiosity
has successfully completed its first drive on the Red Planet.
NASA engineer Matt Heverly said the rover drove 4.5 meters Wednesday, rotated and backed up 2.5 meters. He said the drive confirmed that the soil on the planet is firm.
Pictures from the Mars rover showed tire tracks made during the drive. NASA says the rover has completed taking several soil samples from the planet's surface, with everything "going extremely well."
is loaded with instruments to investigate the Martian geology, weather and radiation levels. It is on a two-year, $2.5-billion mission to help investigate whether life ever existed on Mars or could do so in the future.
Photo Gallery of Mars Rover Curiosity
The Mars Curiosity rover's robotic arm takes aim at Mount Sharp in a mosaic that combines navigation-camera imagery from Sols 2, 12 and 14 (Aug. 8, 18 and 20). The shadow of the rover's camera mast is visible in the center foreground.
Engineers wiggled the wheels as a test of the rover's steering and anticipate embarking on Curiosity's first drive in the next couple of days.
This image shows an artist rendition of the proposed InSight Lander. After driving all around Mars with four rovers, NASA wants to look deep into the guts of the red planet.
A close-up shows a view of a Martian rock that the NASA rover Curiosity zapped at using its laser instrument.
This image shows bedrocks that were exposed after Curiosity's rocket stage fired its engines that blew away soil from the Martian surface. The Mars rover is preparing to aim its laser next week at a rock in the first test of the instrument.