A test operator in clean-room garb observes rolling of the wheels during the first drive test of NASA's Curiosity rover, on July 23, 2010. Technicians and engineers conducted the drive test at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

A test operator in clean-room garb observes rolling of the wheels during the first drive test of NASA's Curiosity rover, on July 23, 2010.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project will launch Curiosity in late 2011 for arrival at Mars in August 2012. The mission will study whether an intriguing area of Mars has offered environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and for preserving evidence of whether life existed there.

Technicians and engineers conducted the drive test in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate.

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