NASA says the Curiosity rover should be ready to begin drilling on Mars soon. It’s the most highly anticipated milestone since the six-wheel, nuclear-powered rover landed near the Martian equator five months ago.

Mission managers outlined the drilling plan yesterday.

Project manager Richard Cook says the team has chosen the site where Curiosity will test its drill for the first time. The spot contains a diverse sample of rocks that the rover can pick from.

Curiosity will drive to the location in the next several days and begin drilling in the next two weeks.

The team named the drilling site “John Klein” after a deputy project manager who died in 2011.

Curiosity is on a two-year mission to determine whether the dusty, cold planet was habitable.

(This article was published on January 16, 2013)
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