Wind-blown sand called the “Rocknest.” The rover team recently commanded Curiosity to take a scoop of soil from this region. The colors in the image at left are unmodified, The image at right has been white-balanced to show what the same area would look like under the lighting conditions on Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

A NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover team member gives an update on developments and status of the planetary exploration mission. The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to its target area on Mars at 1:31:45 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, which includes the 13.8 minutes needed for confirmation of the touchdown to be radioed to Earth at the speed of light. The rover will conduct a nearly two-year prime mission to investigate whether the Gale Crater region of Mars ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.