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Mars Rover ‘Curiosity’ Prepares For Test Drive

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In this photo provided by NASA, a set of marks on the surface of Mars is shown in a cropped image taken with a 34-millimeter Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover on August 18, 2012 on Mars.The set of marks show where blasts from the descent-stage rocket engines blew away some of the surface material. This particular scour mark is near the rear left wheel of the rover and is the left-most scour mark on the left side of this larger panorama from Curiosity's Mast Camera. This scour mark is named Goulburn after a 2-billion year-old sequence of rocks in northern Canada. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

In this photo provided by NASA, a set of marks on the surface of Mars is shown in a cropped image taken with a 34-millimeter Mast Camera on NASA’s Curiosity rover on August 18, 2012 on Mars.The set of marks show where blasts from the descent-stage rocket engines blew away some of the surface material. This particular scour mark is near the rear left wheel of the rover and is the left-most scour mark on the left side of this larger panorama from Curiosity’s Mast Camera. This scour mark is named Goulburn after a 2-billion year-old sequence of rocks in northern Canada. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scientists are preparing to send the NASA rover Curiosity on its first test drive on Mars and they say a broken wind sensor won’t jeopardize its mission.

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California turned four of the rover’s six wheels this week to test the steering. Project manager Mike Watkins says that on Wednesday the rover will roll about 10 feet, turn right and then back up into a new parking place. It’s part of a health checkup for the rover, which eventually could roam hundreds of feet a day over the ancient crater where it landed on Aug. 5.

Engineers also continue to check its instruments. NASA says a wind sensor was damaged on or after landing but a second is working perfectly.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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