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NASA Prepares 'Curiosity' Probe For Drive On Mars

Tracks left by the "Curiosity" on Mars as seen in an image from the rover in late August
NASA is taking its "Curiosity" Mars probe through final tests before sending the vehicle for its first long drive across the surface of Mars in its search for evidence that there may have once been life on the planet.

NASA scientists have been testing instruments aboard the six-wheeled, nuclear-powered vehicle to ensure they are functioning properly after landing on Mars five weeks ago.

The final tests involve maneuvering the rover's robotic arm so its close-up camera touches a tray where processed rock and soil samples will be analyzed.

The rover will then embark on a 400-meter drive to an area where there are three different types of rock.

So far, the vehicle has only moved about 100 meters from where it landed.

Based on reporting by Reuters and RFE/RL