Curiosity’s Pictures from the Red Planet
NASA’s Curiosity rover celebrated one full year on Mars
yesterday. Since landing safely after its 350-million mile journey
on the morning of Aug. 6, 2012, the rover has crawled the distance
of exactly one mile across the planet’s desolate surface.
As part of the $2.5 billion mission, Curiosity searched for the presence of life, explored a portion of the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater, and became the first rover to drill on another planet.
In its second year, Curiosity is headed toward Mount Sharp, a three-mile-high formation whose layers scientists believe hold secrets of Mars’ geological history.
In honor of Curiosity’s year on the Red Planet– and the more than 71,000 images it has recorded and sent back to NASA from millions of miles away– here are some of the space robot’s best photos seen for the first time, stunning landscapes representing a technological achievement boggling the mind for both its endeavor and audacity.
Curiosity snapped this picture of itself in Mars’ Gale Crater, below, where testing revealed
life could have existed.
A tire track from the two-ton rover is imprinted in the planet’s sandy surface.
This landscape of the Gale Crater near the Martian equator is the result of 900 images taken
by Curiosity and stitched together.
Curiosity became the first rover to ever drill on another planet. The unearthed materials
revealed the presence of life-sustaining chemicals nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen, in addition
to a type of clay that forms in the presence of water.
The bottom of Mount Sharp can be seen in the distance as Curiosity makes its way across
Mars’ rocky surface.
Rover tracks leave Mankind’s indelible mark on the Martian landscape.
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It’s a long, long way from home.
(Via NASA and The Week)