LOS ANGELES (AP) — A NASA spacecraft hurtling toward Mars prepared to fire its thrusters today to put itself on course for an August landing.

Engineers closely tracked the one-ton rover nicknamed Curiosity, which has been cruising along since rocketing from Earth last November.

The engine firing is the most important task Curiosity will perform during its 352- million-mile flight to the red planet, but it’s not unprecedented. Previous robotic explorers have had to adjust their paths several times en route to ensure a bull’s-eye landing.

“Just because this is a welltraveled road to Mars given the number of trips we’ve made, I’m very careful to not let that experience cause us to be complacent,” said Arthur Amador of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $2.5 billion mission.

At the time of the course correction, Curiosity will have racked up 80 million miles and will be traveling at 10,200 mph relative to the Earth.



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