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Curiosity drives 259 meters so far: NASA

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-09-19 09:19

WASHINGTON - Mars rover Curiosity drove about 105 feet (32 meters) toward the east-southeast on September 17, bringing the mission's total driving distance to about 850 feet ( 259 meters), US space agency NASA announced Tuesday.

Curiosity's Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument was used at two stops during the drive to check for hydrogen in the soil beneath the rover, NASA said.

DAN can detect water bound into shallow underground minerals along Curiosity's path. The instrument shoots neutrons into the ground and measures how they are scattered, giving it a high sensitivity for finding any hydrogen to a depth of about 20 inches (50 centimeters) directly beneath the rover.

During this sol (Martian day), the rover also used its Mast Camera to observe Mars' two moons, Phobos and Deimos, as each passed in front of the sun.

Mast camera, mounted at about human-eye height, will image the rover's surroundings in high-resolution stereo and color, with the capability to take and store high-definition video sequences. It will also be used for viewing materials collected or treated by the arm.

Curiosity, loaded with the most-sophisticated instruments ever used to explore another world, touched down on the Red Planet on August 6. During the next two years, it will use its 10 instruments to investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and for preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life.

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