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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity leaves coded tracks on first test drive
[i]NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has left its first tracks in the Martian soil, leaving the coded mark of its maker in its trail.
On Wednesday (Aug. 22), the car-size, six-wheeled rover took its first test drive since arriving on the Red Planet more than two weeks ago. Its drivers on Earth ordered Curiosity to roll forward about 15 feet, (4.5 meters), turn right and then back up about 8 feet (2.5 meters), such that when it stopped it was positioned to the left and roughly perpendicular to where it touched down inside Mars' Gale Crater.
"You can see in the tracks how we drive forward, and then you can see roughly a circle, which is where the rover did what we call its turn in place maneuver," said lead rover planner Matt Heverly of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "So it steered all of its wheels and then performed a turn of a 120 degrees, pivoting about a point in the center of that circle, and then it backed up."
Curiosity's path to its new parking spot was emblazoned on the Martian surface by a series of dash and dot tread marks that were left in the soil by each of the rover's 20-inch diameter (50 centimeter) wheels...[/i]
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