Mars rover: On the road again (pictures)

Miles to go before it rests, the Curiosity rover finally heads for its primary mission target.

Charles Cooper
1 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mount Sharp or bust

After a prolonged respite, the Mars Curiosity rover is hitting the road -- or what passes for a road up there -- headed for a region of the Red Planet known as Mount Sharp, 5 miles away from its current location. Scientists hope the area will shed further light on the evolution of Mars. Scientists say that satellite images of the region suggest the presence of sediment deposits left there by ancient water.
2 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Mapping out the target

This is the general route that Curiosity will take.
3 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHS

The road ahead

The 1-ton Curiosity rover has spent the last six months roughly in the same area. Now it's again on the move. In this image, a look back at wheel tracks made during the first drive away from the so-called Glenelg area.
4 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity self-portrait

A self-portrait of Curiosity.
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A view of Solander Point

Meanwhile, the other rover, Opportunity, has been studying the western rim of Endeavour Crater since arriving there in August 2011. It's now heading out to investigate the Solander Point region.
6 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

A rock that holds clues to the Martian past?

A view of the pale rock called "Esperence." Opportunity took samples which revealed a higher composition of aluminum and silica, and lower in calcium and iron, than other rocks investigated by the rover. The findings also raised hope among scientists who say that the preliminary interpretation suggests that the rock's clay mineral content was linked to the "intensive alteration by water."
7 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech

Dig this

Earlier this spring, Curiosity drilled out powdered samples which were later analyzed by its in-house laboratory instruments.
8 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech

Distances driven

A comparison of the distances driven by various wheeled vehicles on the surface of Earth's moon and Mars.
9 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech

Martian shadows

A shot of the surface of the "Point Lake" outcrop.
10 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech

Martian moons

Phobos, the larger of the two moons of Mars, passes over the Mars rover Curiosity. This is a composite of 86 images centered straight overhead starting shortly after sunset.
11 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Putting the miles on

Another view of the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through July 8, 2013.
12 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Rocky road

The Point Lake region of Mars' Gale Crater, where Mount Sharp rises some 3.4 miles above the planet's surface.
13 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech

Gale Crater

Another view of Gale Crater from the north.
14 of 14 NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A river runs (ran) through it

During its earlier work, Curiosity discovered remnants of an ancient Martian stream.

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