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 has a primary mission time of one Martian year. That is, it will continue to operate at least 687 Earth days, surviving at least one Martian winter in the process.
Mars Science Laboratory has higher clearance and greater mobility than any previous rover sent to Mars, traveling a distance of 5 to 20 kilometers (about 3 to 12 miles) 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 will occur 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).