MSL project scientist John Grotzinger says NASA is in no hurry to race across the surface of Mars in its newly landed rover. “We just want to check out all the engineering systems and science systems. It’s a very complicated spacecraft compared to what we’ve done before. We’re going to make sure we’re firing on all cylinders before we blaze out there.” However, he does add that “nested in there are a few science experiments. We expect to spend a couple of weeks checking things out and will take a short drive as part of the first phase of commissioning. Within a year or so we could be at the base of Mount Sharp – the mission is about patience.”
The MSL team celebrates the landing at the press conference
MSL project manager Peter Theisinger says “we’re in no hurry. As of 10.32 we have a priceless national asset on the surface – and we’re not going to screw it up. We’re going to understand it and make sure nothing happened in landing with a slow methodical pace. So be patient with us please, because we’re going to be patient with Curiosity.”
He adds that the craft’s landing ensures that NASA’s continuous roving presence on Mars, now at eight years and counting, looks set to continue.