Curiosity rover broadcasts message from Mars

In this image released by NASA on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012, a chapter in the layered geological history of Mars is laid bare. It shows the base of Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual science destination, and is part of a larger image taken by Curiosity's 100-millimeter Mast Camera. Scientists enhanced the color in one version to show the scene under the lighting conditions that exist on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain. The pointy mound in the center is about 1,000 feet across and 300 feet high.

The Curiosity rover has tested its nose and cleared its throat, and is set to start its journey toward its first potential drilling target over the coming days, scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Monday.

In a message broadcast from the Mars Science Laboratory rover at its landing site in Gale Crater, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden congratulated the mission team in La Cañada-Flintridge on the successful Aug. 5 landing.

“This is an extraordinary achievement,” Bolden said in the recording (originally sent to the rover from Earth). “Landing a rover on Mars is not easy. Others have tried; only America has fully succeeded.”

The scientists displayed new images of the rover’s ultimate target: the base of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-high mound in the middle of Gale Crater that scientists believe holds a record of the planet’s history, and potentially even some of the ingredients for life.


Mount Sharp’s base features well-defined layers in patterns reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, project scientist John Grotzinger said Monday at a news conference.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Grotzinger said, indicating the watercolor layers.

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-- Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times


Follow Amina on Twitter @aminawrite.