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Nasa Mars Rover Curiosity Prepares To Jump Sand Dune

05/02/2014 11:24 GMT | Updated 05/02/2014 11:59 GMT

The Mars Rover Curiosity is getting ready to make one of its most dangerous manouevres on the surface of the Red Planet so far: it's going to jump over a dune.

The car-sized $2.5 billion robot is currently positioned at the crest of a sandy dune known as the "Dingo Gap", and needs to drive over the hump in order to continue on its journey.

The ultimate destination is an area of potential scientific interest known as "Mount Sharp", where the presence of many different layers of rock will let it peer back into the Martian past.

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Above: the view of the dune, Click here for full resolution.

This southwestward journey has taken - and will take - months, after it found evidence of conditions favourable to microbial life last year.

The dune it now faces is about three feet high, and is sharply tapered at both sides.

It's still assessing whether or not to try and drive over the hump, but new colour pictures from the robot's Mastcam seem to show the way ahead is clear.

The robot also tweeted this beautiful picture of the surface ahead of the "jump".