NASA's Curiosity rover geared up for its first test drive August 22 over billion-year-old Mars rocks. This apart, the device's broken wind sensor was identified while scientists assured that it would not jeopardize Curiosity's mission of determining whether life could exist there.
Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena conducted a successful "wheel wiggle" when they turned four of rover's six wheels ahead of Wednesday's trek, the Associated Press reported.
"We are going for our first drive," said mission manager Mike Watkins. Apparently, the rover will move forward about 3 meters, turn right, back up and park slightly to the left of its old spot. "You will definitely see tracks," he added.
On damaged wind sensor, the mission stressed that it was not a major problem and would merely degrade a few measurements and not prevent them, the BBC reported.
Engineers suspect surface stones thrown up during Curiosity's rocket-powered landing may have struck sensor circuits and broken the wiring.
Javier Gomez-Elvira, principal investigator of broken instrumentation - the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), told reporters: "We are working to recover as much functionality as possible."
Scientists expect the Curiosity to start posting daily Martian weather reports next week. On the whole, Curiosity was making a great progress, Watkins told the Los Angeles Times, adding: "The Curiosity rover and the ops team continue to hit home runs here. We're in the middle of a really fantastic week."
Scientists continued to test and calibrate Curiosity's 7-foot long arm and its tool kit comprising a drill, a scoop, a spectrometer and a camera while preparing to collect its first soil sample and trying to learn whether the Martian environment was favorable for microbial life, the Associated Press added.