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Curiosity to make wide detour to check out something ‘cool’

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WASHINGTON — The US space agency NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity will make a wide detour to explore a geographical hot spot on Mars because “it looks cool,” scientists said Friday.

Before driving to its destination at Mount Sharp, which may contain traces of water, Curiosity will head in the opposite direction, to a spot NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has dubbed Glenelg.

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In a statement, the Pasadena lab said Glenelg marks the intersection of three kinds of terrain 1,640 feet (500 meters) from the rover’s landing site.

A light-colored patch of terrain in the region indicates to scientists “a kind of bedrock suitable for eventual drilling by Curiosity.”

A cluster of small craters may represent “an older or harder surface” and another spot features a patch of land resembling the rover’s landing site, before the nuclear-powered apparatus “scoured away some of the surface.”

The scientists feel the name Glenelg is “appropriate,” because it is a palindrome — a word read the same way backward and forward — and the rover will need to travel back in the same direction to head toward Mount Sharp.

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The Glenelg trek will be the rover’s first long drive, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist John Grotzinger told reporters, explaining the decision to risk travelling off the planned route.

“It looks cool,” he said.

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Grotzinger estimates it will take three to four weeks for the rover to arrive at Glenelg, where the rover would stay for roughly a month, before heading to the base of Mount Sharp.

Analysts have said it may be a full year before the remote-controlled rover gets to the base of the peak, which is believed to be within a dozen miles (20 kilometers) of the rover’s landing site.

A photo of the lower reaches of Mount Sharp, taken from Curiosity’s landing site, shows “hills, buttes, mesas and canyons on the scale of one-to-three story buildings.”

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Scientists hope the hydrated minerals thought to be concentrated in the bottom half of the photographed lower reaches will “reveal the area’s geological history.”

The Mars Science Laboratory is expected to travel as far as halfway up Mount Sharp, a towering three-mile Martian mountain with sediment layers that may be up to a billion years old.

NASA plans to obtain photos of the summit “in a week or two.”

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The $2.5 billion craft arrived on Mars at 0531 GMT on August 6.

Photo taken by the Mars rover Curiosity via AFP/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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These 6 former Trump officials are most likely to throw him under the bus in 2020

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Former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said on Monday that he believed we would soon see a groundswell of former Trump administration officials coming out to publicly denounce the president ahead of his 2020 reelection bid in an effort to warn Americans of his unfitness for office.

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Trump’s ignorance has touched off a new crisis in Kashmir

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Is Trump is right? Is there ‘something going on’ at Fox News?

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President Donald Trump denounced Fox News after the network released a poll showing him lagging behind the four current frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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