NASA's Curiosity rover has been picking its way over the rocks and sand of Mars for a long time now on its way to the ultimate goal of reaching Mount Sharp in the center of Gale Crater. Curiosity was taking a path through what has been dubbed Hidden Valley, which is a sandy area about the length of a football field.
However, Curiosity ran into a problem with its chosen path recently when the rover and its controllers discovered that the sand in Hidden Valley was much slipperier than expected. NASA scientists are now assessing alternative routes that would take Curiosity north of the valley and hopefully find more traction for the 1-ton rover.
"We need to gain a better understanding of the interaction between the wheels and Martian sand ripples, and Hidden Valley is not a good location for experimenting," Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California said in a statement.