Planning Curiosity’s First Test Drive

August 22, 2012
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This simulation shows the first test drive of NASA's Curiosity rover. This tool, called the Rover Sequencing and Visualization Program (RSVP) helps engineers plan the rover's drives, modeling pebbles and bumps in the terrain. The visualization component of the RSVP tool is called Hyperdrive.

The tool shows the sped-up plan for the drive; the actual drive took place at 7:17 a.m. PDT (10:17 a.m. EDT) on Aug. 22, 2012, and lasted about 16 minutes. The drive demonstrated that the wheel actuators, or motors, are working.

To start its forward drive, Curiosity's drove about 3 feet (90 centimeters), rotating its wheels 180 degrees, before stopping to take pictures of the wheels. It then continued forward another 12 feet (3.6 meters), totaling 15 feet (4.5 meters) of forward motion. The rover then rotated 120 degrees, stopping again during the turn to take more pictures. Finally, Curiosity rolled backward 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) and snapped more pictures from its final location. The total drive distance was nearly 23 feet (7 meters). Curiosity is now about 20 feet (6 meters) from its landing site, called Bradbury Landing, and more than 16 feet (5 meters) from the scour mark called Goulburn, which scientists are currently investigating.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech