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Curiosity on track for August landing
Posted: Tue, Jun 12, 2012, 7:06 AM ET (1106 GMT)
Mars Science Laboratory illustration (NASA/JPL) Project engineers have narrowed the landing site for NASA's Curiosity Mars rover while the space agency played down a potential contamination issue with one of the rover's instruments. Officials said Monday they have revised the "landing ellipse", the targeted landing site for the rover, has shrunk from 20 by 25 kilometers to 7 by 20 kilometers, allowing a more precise landing near the base of Mt. Sharp, the peak in the middle of Gale Crater that will be the focus of the rover's scientific studies. The landing is scheduled for 1:31 am EDT (0531 GMT) August 6 and, if successful, the rover will begin at least two years of operations. NASA also acknowledged Monday an issue with a drill on the rover that could contaminate rock samples with flecks of Teflon from the drill bit. Project officials said there are workarounds to reduce or eliminate any effects of mixing Teflon with samples.
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