After playing in the sand, the Curiosity rover is poised to trek across the Martian landscape in search of a rock to drill into, scientists reported.
The six-wheel rover has been parked for more than a month at a sand dune where it has been busy scooping up soil, sniffing the atmosphere and measuring radiation levels on the surface.
Its next task is to zero in on a rock and that requires driving to a new location.
Mission deputy scientist Ashwin Vasavada expected Curiosity to be on the move in the "next few days".
"The soil is a little harder to interpret because we don't know how old it is or where it came from."
The car-size rover touched down in Gale Crater, an ancient depression near the Martian equator, in August on a two-year mission to probe whether the landing site once had conditions capable of supporting microbial life.
Armed with a high-tech suite of instruments, it is the most sophisticated spacecraft to ever land on the red planet.