By Jeff Foust, The Space Review, 08.14.12
“I do not see how sample return [from the planet Mars], as such, is vital for human exploration, and I think that saying that it is actually creates an obstacle to human exploration. I’m all for sample return, but I’d like to do sample return from a human expedition.” -- Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin
For those involved with Curiosity, the answer is at least two years—and possibly many more—of science. The initial checkouts of the rover in the days after landing showed the spacecraft to be in good health, and a four-day software upgrade that started this weekend will get the rover ready to start moving across the surface and studying the Red Planet. Some of the initial images returned by Curiosity have already provided tantalizing hints of the quality of the data it will provide scientists and the public in the months and years to come.
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