Curiosity is Now Fitted Out with New Software, As Scientsts Plan Where Curiosity Will Rove
August 15, 2012 • 10:34AM

The transition from landing software to surface operations software in Curiosity's main and back-up computers has been completed. Mission managers reported Tuesday from JPL that the check-out of its scientific instruments will continue, while scientists, engineers, and rover drivers plan the best pathway for it to travel to reach Mount Sharp. That drive, managers conservatively estimate, could take as long as a year. They are not in any hurry, since the rover, barring unforeseen problems, is expected to last minimally nearly two Earth, or one Mars, years. They are using high-resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to help plot a safe, and interesting traverse, where Curiosity will investigate targets of interest along the way. Out of the six traverses under consideration, one will be chosen before the rover starts its trek, which will probably start by the end of this month.

Deputy Project Manager Ashwin Vasavada reported that in a few days, scientists should have been able to put together a report on the the weather at Gale Crater, as the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) takes 24-hour-a-day measurements. Meteorologists are very excited, he said, because Gale Crater has variable winds due to the presence of the mountain.

On Curiosity's 13th sol (Mars day), about a week from now, Curiosity will turn its wheels in place, to test its steering actuators (each wheel has its own motor), and two days later, it will take its first short drive, turn, and back up.