The one-tonne Curiosity is on a mission to Mount Sharp, a 5.5 km high mountain in the centre of Mars' Gale Crater, and had to turn back after finding the sand surprisingly slippery, reports space.com.

‘We need to gain a better understanding of the interaction between the wheels and Martian sand ripples, and 'Hidden Valley' is not a good location for experimenting,’ Jim Erickson, Curiosity project manager, was quoted as saying.

The goal of the six-wheeled Curiosity is to climb up Mount Sharp foothills and read the history of change from a warm and wet planet in the past to the cold, dry Mars of today.

Curiosity has covered about 8 km of the way to Mount Sharp and has about 3.2 km to go, which the team hopes to get to by the end of 2014.

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