August 18, 2014

Curiosity Rover on Mars Stalled by 'Hidden Valley' Sand Trap

Posted by tourdemars to Mars Science Laboratory at August 18, 2014 4:34 PM

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity may have to choose a new route to the base of a huge Red Planet mountain. The 1-ton Curiosity rover had been heading for Mount Sharp — a 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) mountain in the center of Mars' Gale Crater — via "Hidden Valley," a sandy swale that's about the length of a football field. But Curiosity turned back shortly after entering the valley's northeastern end earlier this month, finding the sand surprisingly slippery, NASA officials said. "We need to gain a better understanding of the interaction between the wheels and Martian sand ripples, and Hidden Valley is not a good location for experimenting," Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.
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