Last week, the mission finished investigating science targets in the Glenelg area, about 500 yards (half a kilometer) east of where Curiosity landed. The mission's next major destination is at the lower layers of Mount Sharp, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) southwest of Glenelg. The July 9 drive brought Curiosity's odometry to about 325 feet (99 meters) since completing the Glenelg investigations and about 0.51 mile (0.95 kilometer) since landing on Mars in August 2012.
Mount Sharp, in the middle of Gale Crater, exposes many layers where scientists anticipate finding evidence about how the ancient Martian environment changed and evolved. At targets in the Glenelg area, where Curiosity worked for the first half of 2013, the rover found evidence for an ancient wet environment that had conditions favorable for microbial life. This means the mission already has accomplished its main science objective.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover.
More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ . You can follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .
Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory