After spending $1.5B getting it there NASA is taking its sweet time to put the thing to work. Is this wise?
I keep thinking that something could still fail with this thing. A wheel could stick, a circuit could burn out, and we have an immobile piece of space junk sitting in a boring field of sand and small rocks. Why not grab some data as fast as possible? If Curiosity does break before it gets any good data, what a waste. All those pictures it is taking of itself and its tracks is going to be a sad reminder of wasted opportunity if it fails. Would putting it to work immediately risk it more than the slow paced self-testing its doing. If they burn out some bearing twisting the masthead to look at itself there will be a lot of egg on someone’s face.
Now being sure it’s working properly is certainly a good idea, but is NASA doing it to excess? Can’t they do the testing and some science at the same time? I have no idea but I’m nervous that they could be squandering their opportunity for science. Certainly no need to charge up Mt. Sharp as full speed but something other that sitting around might be good. They say it’s almost a month it’s been there and they keeping thinking they have another 23 months (the design lifetime), but do they? Maybe the previous rovers that far outlasted their design lifetime have lulled them into a lack of urgency.
Time will tell.