Curiosity rover begins delayed road trip as NASA looks ahead to 2020 Mars trip

A self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity. The rover is finally heading toward a Martian mountain after spending seven months examining rocks and dirt.
A self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity. The rover is finally heading toward a Martian mountain after spending seven months examining rocks and dirt. NASA / JPL

It took longer than expected, but NASA's Curiosity rover is finally heading toward a Martian mountain.

The nuclear-powered, six-wheel rover drove a total of 190 feet since July Fourth, leaving the spot where it spent the past seven months examining rocks and dirt.

Curiosity landed last August in Gale Crater near Mars' equator and has already found an environment that scientists say contains all the right ingredients for microbes to survive.

The delay in heading to Mount Sharp was mostly due to unexpected discoveries. As pleased as scientists are with the progress so far, they're itching to study the layers of rock at the base of the mountain.

The trek is expected to last nine months to a year with several stops along the way.

On Tuesday, NASA is expected to release a report that will help define science objectives for the agency's next Mars rover.

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