An artist rendering of the Mars Curiosity rover. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- NASA's newest Mars rover is gearing up for a road trip. But first, it has to drill into a rock.
Curiosity's first priority in the new year is to test out its drill. Mission managers had wanted to get it done this year, but they ran out of time because other activities took longer than expected.
The car-size rover landed in a crater near the Martian equator over the summer to great fanfare. Since then, it has been taking it slow.
Curiosity is expected to start the drive to a mountain in mid-February after drilling is complete. Scientists predict it'll take nine months to get there with stops along the way.
The rover is on a two-year mission to determine whether the landing site could have been favorable for life.