August 5 marked the third Earth year since NASA’s Curiosity rover made its landing on Mars’s red surface. As NASA prepares to send a new rover to the red planet, let us celebrate Curiosity’s adventure-packed journey in pictures.
The rover’s track marks include a Morse code for JPL or NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. The interspersed zigzag tracks pattern is a reference to help Curiosity navigate.
The blue dot at the lower right of this photo is the Curiosity. The winding trail behind it tracks to the landing site where scar from the landing jet’s blast remains.
This photo that the rover took is just one of the many proofs that signal the red planet’s watery past. Scientists believe that even layers of the Martian rock were deposited near the edge of Martian ancient lake. The rock is thought to be close to where the water flowed into the basin.
The Journey Begins
The picture shows Curiosity’s shadow. It was taken after the rover landed on Mars.
Sunset on Mars
This is one stunning view of the sun setting over the rim of Gale crater on April 15, 2015. Martian sunsets are tinted blue because of fine particles that allow more blue light into the Martian atmosphere, unlike Earth’s red-hued sunsets.
This is Tintina, a rock that was crushed under Curiosity’s wheels. It revealed a surprising white interior. Through analysis, the rock’s minerals contain water. This helps the theory that Mars was once watery.
The pink circle is just one of the rover’s many “eyes.” The rover was built with many sensors and instruments to record and observe the Martian landscape.
This hole is inch wide. It was the first drill hole in Mount Sharp. The hole is small but contained a wealth of information. The sample contained an iron-oxide mineral called hematite. This suggests that Mars might have once had chemistry that could support microbes.
This photo was taken at JPL in Pasadena, California. Two NASA engineers are shown posing with three generations of Mars rovers. According to Vasavada, Curiosity was “conceived as a laboratory on wheels.”
Curiosity traveled the Dingo Gap, a three-foot-tall (one meter) dune, on the 535th Martian day. To prevent rapid wearing of the rover’s treads on the sharp Martian rocks, scientists guided Curiosity to dune sands.
Stitched together from fifty-five pictures at Rocknest dune created this selfie of Curiosity. The site is where it first sampled Martian soil.
Full Steam Ahead
This picture shows Curiosity as it charges toward a 3.4-mile-high Mount Sharp. The mountain is taller than Mount Whitney in California. The rover was sent to the mountain to observe the mountain’s rocky layers, which may hold the history of life on Mars.
Walking Through Time
The layers of rock on the lower flanks of Mount Sharp will help in understanding Mars’s geologic history, according to scientists. They will study the mountain layer by layer.
Surrounded by the Pahrump Hills at the Mojave site, Curiosity takes a second sample of Mount Sharp’s soil. It was also around this time that scientists announced that Curiosity had detected methane in the red planet’s atmosphere and some organic molecules in rocks.
As Curiosity collects a soil sample of Martian soil at the Rocknest dunes, it also found some debris. The debris may have been dropped during the rover’s landing. A bit of water vapor may have escaped when Curiosity heated the soil in its onboard lab.
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