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Mars Science Laboratory

Surface Operations

Curiosity: Robot Geologist and Chemist in One!
In this picture, the rover examines a rock on Mars with a set of tools at the end of the rover's arm, which extends about 7 feet (2 meters).

The surface operations phase covers the rover's time conducting scientific investigations at Gale Crater on Mars. After reaching the surface of the red planet, Mars Science Laboratory had a primary mission time of one Martian year. That is, it would continue to operate at least 687 Earth days, surviving at least one Martian winter in the process. The rover is currently in its second extended mission.

Mars Science Laboratory has higher clearance and greater mobility than any previous rover sent to Mars, projected to travel a distance of about 3 to 12 miles (5 to 20 kilometers) from its landing site.

While exploring Mars, the rover will collect, grind, distribute, and analyze approximately 70 samples of soil and rock.

For more information on what occurs during this phase, see also Science and Science Instruments.

Early Curiosity Traverse Map (through Sol 29)
This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 29th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 4, 2012).

Curiosity traverse maps are posted, as available, on the Images page.