FILE – This file image provided by NASA shows the base of Mount Sharp on Mars. The Curiosity rover is set to drive toward the mountain in mid-February after drilling into a rock. The image was taken by Curiosity’s 100-millimeter Mast Camera on Aug. 23, 2012. Scientists enhanced the color in one version to show the Martian scene under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, File)
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Since captivating the world with its acrobatic landing, the Mars rover Curiosity has fallen into a rhythm: Drive, snap pictures, zap at boulders, scoop up dirt. Repeat.
Topping its to-do list in the new year: Set off toward a Martian mountain — a trek that will take up a good chunk of the year.
The original itinerary called for starting the drive before the Times Square ball drop, but Curiosity lingered longer than planned at a pit stop, delaying the trip.
Curiosity will now head for Mount Sharp in mid-February after it drills into its first rock.
“We’ll probably be ready to hit the pedal to the metal and give the keys back to the rover drivers,” mission chief scientist John Grotzinger said in a recent interview at his office on the sprawling NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory campus 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.