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Mars Rover Curiosity Charts its Own Course for the First Time


This image from Curiosity‘s navigation cam shows the scene from the rover’s position on Mars right after Curiosity completed its first solo drive last Tuesday.

On Tuesday Curiosity decided its path for the first time on its way to Mt. Sharp. Using autonomous navigation or autonav, Curiosity drove onto ground that had not been confirmed safe by NASA’s Curiosity science team. To determine its path, the rover takes several pictures and its computer processes the information to map any dangerous or rough terrain. This allows Curiosity to safely travel even beyond the area that its team of drivers on Earth can evaluate ahead of time. Similar technology is used on “driverless” cars such as those that can park themselves or stop before hitting an object.

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