How far up Mount Sharp will you be able to go, and at what angle of incline?
The whole thing is potentially drivable. It's shaped like Hawaii—it's quite high in elevation, but that elevation is all dissipated over some pretty general slopes. We will probably go up to the first kilometer where we see a significant change from a time in the planet's history when it formed clays and sulfates to a time when you see anhydrous [water-free] minerals there. We'll cross that boundary and afterwards look at our data and decide whether it's worth continuing to go up, or whether we should go back down and sample a different area on the way down.
Is there a maximum angle of inclination the rover can handle?
We have a flight limit of about 20 degrees, but we're pretty sure we can handle things up to 25 degrees.
When do you see science kicking into high gear?
I think after the commissioning, the second half of commissioning, I think we'll be ready to go—that will probably be two, three months out. Once that happens we'll get the keys to the car…. We're pretty confident we're going to find a lot of good stuff right where we are.
How does today compare to what you might have expected yesterday or a week or month ago?
The way that many of us feel today is a great sense of relief and also great sense of accomplishment. It's just been something we've been after for many, many years now—it just all came home.