Heading directly for Balanced Rock

Week Three: Ninth Anniversary Fund-Raising Drive for Behind the Black

It is now the third week in my annual anniversary fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black.

Please consider donating. I am trying to avoid advertising on this website, but will be forced to add it if I do not get enough support from my readers. You can give a one-time contribution, from $5 to $100, or a regular subscription for as little as $2 per month. Your support will be deeply appreciated, and will allow me to continue to report on science and culture freely.

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If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
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Curiosity's course to Balanced Rock

As I predicted Sunday, the Curiosity science team is aiming the rover directly towards the gap in the mesas, dubbed the Murray Buttes, that also has the balanced rock seen in earlier images.

The image on the right shows the rover’s most recent two traverses, superimposed on a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image. I have cropped it to focus in on the area of most interest.

Based on the rover’s general rate of travel, I would expect them to enter the gap after about two or three more traverses. This means they will be there in about a week, since after each traverse they usually stop and do science and reconnaissance before resuming travel.



  • PeterF

    Future KOA campground!

  • Alex

    NASA stated: “Curiosity has driven 8.40 miles (13.51 kilometers) since its landing in 2012.”
    I call this very ineffective, just about 9 meters/day or 0.1 mm/s. Oh man, so slowly. We need very different autonomous robot, which are able to travel at least 9 km/day!!!

  • Alex wrote: “We need very different autonomous robot, which are able to travel at least 9 km/day!!!”

    It’s called a human being.

  • Localfluff

    An alternative would be to run the rover in “simulated real time” from Earth. I.e. with a time travel delay, but since it is so slow it would still be safe most of the time. And run it continuously 24/7. But that requires a larger research team to handle the increased data, a dedicated Areosynchonous communication satellite and a much more powerful rover, which would be a solar rover with daytime only operations. Curiosity only has 1/6 of a horsepower electric power!

  • Alex

    Localfluff: Yoo describe one option, another would be to design robots, which are able to make own decisions based on in-situ available information, without being chained to ground station on Earth.

    Mr. Zimmerman: Yes, your comment is correct, but man must be not Mars’ surface himself to achieve much higher travel speed. He could use telerobot technology from Mars orbit or real advanced robots (see above, my comments responding to Localfluff).

  • Joe

    Love when John Batchelor plays with the thought of alien life on an alien planet, road markers, left by I guess would be the phobosians? From the J podcast.

  • wayne

    yeah– JB talking Space with Mr. Z, “priceless.” JB is like a kid in a candy-store, genuine enthusiasm!

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