After spending a few days contemplating whether the Mars Curiosity rover should attempt to go over a sand dune, NASA finally pulled the trigger on the descent. The Curiosity has finally conquered the largest sand dune it has ever traversed since it landed on Mars.

"I'm over the moon that I'm over the dune! I successfully crossed the "Dingo Gap" sand dune on Mars," a post on the Curiosity Rover's Twitter account read.

NASA engineers were initially hesitant to send the Curiosity over the edge of the sand dune, and with good reason too. NASA has already lost the Spirit to a sand trap in 2009 and the Opportunity almost shared the same fate. Moreover, engineers were also worried about the wear and tear on the Curiosity's metal wheels. After debating the merits of the maneuver, NASA finally sent the rover over the edge, clearing the sand dune called the "Dingo Gap," and on its way to a target site. A relieved NASA engineer also tweeted about the rover's successful descent. "Seeing this picture from the bottom of the sand dune put an even bigger smile on my face today #ShootTheGap", tweeted NASA engineer Matt Heverly.

While the sand dune presented a huge hurdle for the Curiosity, crossing the "Dingo Gap" was considered as the safer alternative compared to traversing another area that was doing a lot of damage to the rover's wheels. The previous route the rover was traveling on was referred to as the "rapid transit route."

The damage sustained by the Curiosity as it traveled through the "rapid transit route" came as a surprise to the scientists monitoring the mission. While the engineers are still unsure as to why the Curiosity's sustained that amount of damage, something that didn't happen to previous rovers, it is believed that the wind blowing through the area may have sharpened the rocks protruding through the ground.

The current target site that the Curiosity is headed for, is called the "KMS-9," a location that scientists are very curious about. While the Curiosity has visited a number of location on Mars, "KMS-9" is surrounded by terrain that is different from all of the previous sites. Once the rover arrives at the target location, scientists are hoping to drill the site to obtain samples for further study.

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