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Mars Rover Curiosity Takes First Big Driving Test

And we’re off! Kind of.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has taken its first tentative steps into its adopted world this week, as team specialists put the 1-ton Martian explorer through a series of tests to check out its driving skills.

The six-wheeled, car-sized rolling laboratory scooted forward about 15 feet, rotated 90 degrees, then reversed a bit while photographing its and tracks in the ruddy soil.  

OK, not exactly the grand victory lap you might have expected, but how far did you get on your first outing? Mission managers say Curiosity aced its first tests and is poised to venture out into its new digs at the deliberate pace of 330 feet a day as the nuclear-powered rover begins its scheduled two year science-gathering mission to zap, drill, and test soil and rocks on Mars and report its findings about our red neighbor.

Motor on, Curiosity! Albeit very slowly.

Video by Paca Thomas.