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Mars rover 'Curiosity' prepares for test drive

Rover ready for first test drive

Scientists on Tuesday prepared to send Curiosity on its first test drive over the rocks of Mars. Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., turned four of the rover's six wheels in place this week in a successful "wheel wiggle" to test the steering for today's trek, mission manager Mike Watkins said. The test drive is part of a health checkup the rover has been undergoing since arriving on Aug. 5. The engineers said they discovered a damaged wind sensor on the rover, but said it won't jeopardize the mission of determining whether life could exist on Mars. The cause of the damage wasn't known. A second sensor is operating and should do the job, they said.

We're a nation of food wasters

Americans are throwing out nearly every other bite of food, wasting up to 40 percent of the country's supply each year — a mass of uneaten provisions worth $165 billion, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. An average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year, or 20 pounds per person per month, according to the nonprofit and nonpartisan environmental advocacy group.

Monument hurt, but didn't sink

The Washington Monument did not sink any further into the ground as a result of last year's 5.8-magnitude earthquake, government surveyors said in a report released Tuesday. The upper portion of the monument sustained several large cracks during the quake on Aug. 23, 2011, and the iconic obelisk will likely be closed for repairs until 2014. The repairs are estimated to cost at least $15 million.

Times wires

Mars rover 'Curiosity' prepares for test drive 08/21/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 9:03pm]
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