Scientists plot driving routes for new Mars rover

Associated Press
This image provided by NASA shows a high-resolution 360-degree color panorama of Gale Crater taken by the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on August 5, 2012. A low-quality version was released earlier. Curiosity is on a two-year mission to study whether Gale could support microbial life. (AP Photo/NASA)
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This image provided by NASA shows a high-resolution 360-degree color panorama of Gale Crater taken by the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on August 5, 2012. A low-quality version was released earlier. Curiosity is on a two-year mission to study whether Gale could support microbial life. (AP Photo/NASA)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scientists are evaluating driving routes the rover Curiosity may take on its way to a Martian mountain.

The NASA rover landed in Gale Crater near the Martian equator a week ago after an eight-month space flight. Its ultimate destination is Mount Sharp, which rises from the center of the crater.

Since landing, the car-size rover has been undergoing an extensive check of its systems and instruments. Officials said Tuesday that Curiosity has successfully completed an upgrade to its computers.

Engineers plan to have Curiosity move its wheels and take a short test drive in several days, but it will take a month to complete all checkups before the six-wheel rover can begin real driving.

Scientists estimate it'll take about a year to get to the lower slopes of the mountain.

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