LOS ANGELES — The space acrobatics of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars have proved so popular that some 1.1 million people follow the mission on Twitter, the space agency said.
The first-person accounts from Mars are being written by the public affairs office at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $2.5 billion mission.
Curiosity landed Aug. 5 by executing an intricate routine that ended with it being lowered by cables to the surface.
John Grotzinger, the chief scientist for the mission, said Monday that the pictures of the rover’s wheel prints on Mars may turn out to be an iconic image, just like those first boot prints left on the lunar surface by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.
‘‘Instead of a human, it’s a robot pretty much doing the same thing,’’ he said.
Curiosity took a drive early Monday that placed it over a patch where one of the spacecraft’s landing engines whipped up soil and exposed underlying rock.
Researchers plan to use the rover’s neutron-shooting instrument to look for water molecules that might be bound in minerals at the site. The instrument can test the composition of atmosphere, powdered rock, or soil.