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Curiosity rover to drive toward Mount Sharp on Mars: NASA


08:27, June 06, 2013

WASHINGTON, June 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. space agency NASA said Wednesday its rover Curiosity will soon shift to a distance- driving mode headed for the Mars mission's primary destination: a mountain called Mount Sharp.

Curiosity is finishing investigations in an area called Glenelg where it has been working for six months, NASA said, expecting it to start the journey in the next few weeks.

To reach Mount Sharp, about 8 kilometers from its current locations, Curiosity is expected to drive toward the southwest " for many months," said NASA.

"We don't know when we'll get to Mount Sharp," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a statement.

"This truly is a mission of exploration, so just because our end goal is Mount Sharp doesn't mean we're not going to investigate interesting features along the way," Erickson said.

Images of Mount Sharp taken from orbit and images Curiosity has taken from a distance reveal many layers where scientists anticipate finding evidence about how the ancient Martian environment changed and evolved, NASA said.

Curiosity, which landed on the Red Planet last August, has already discovered an ancient streambed and found evidence of ancient environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

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