NEWS: Rough Roving: Curiosity's Wheel Damage ‘Accelerated'
"We'll take a peek over the dune into the valley immediately to the west to see whether the terrain looks as good as the analysis of orbital images implies," he said in a JPL news release. Curiosity's orbital buddy, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), continues to keep an eye on the rover's surroundings, spying out alternate routes for Curiosity to drive.
The dune, which stands approximately 1 meter (3 feet) high, has been dubbed "Dingo Gap" and would be a significant obstacle to overcome, so a final decision has yet to be made.
Mission scientists are eying a candidate drilling site that could be of significant scientific interest called KMS-9, approximately 800 meters (half a mile) from the rover's current location, but the journey there will likely be a lot longer depending on the winding route picked out by rover drivers.
ANALYSIS: Rough Roving: Curiosity's Wheels Show Damage
"At KMS-9, we see three terrain types exposed and a relatively dust-free surface," said science team collaborator Katie Stack of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "This area is appealing because we can see terrain units unlike any that Curiosity has visited so far. One unit has striations all oriented in a similar direction. Another is smooth, without striations. We don't know yet what they are. The big draw is exploration and seeing new things."