NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has begun a planned quarter-mile

trek to the first science target beyond its landing site, NASA said Wednesday.

"We are on our way,"

project scientist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology,

said in a statement.

The drive to Glenelg, a

point east of the rover's landing site where three different types of terrain

intersect, will take several weeks, with stops along the way.

PHOTOS: Curiosity's First Week On Mars

On Tuesday, Curiosity

drove about 52 feet, longer than its previous two test drives combined.

"It's nice to see some

Martian soil on our wheels,"  said

mission manager Arthur Amador, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in

Pasadena, Calif.

Curiosity Transmits First Song from Mars

Curiosity, a one-ton,

nuclear-powered roving chemistry lab, touched down inside  Gale Crater on Aug. 6 to begin a

two-year mission to determine if Mars has or ever had the ingredients for life

to evolve and be preserved.

Images: Top: Tracks

from Curiosity’s eastward drive during its 22nd day on Mars. The rover’s rear

Hazard Avoidance Camera took the shot with its fisheye lens after the 52-foot

drive. Right: Soils clinging on the rover’s right middle and rear wheels.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech