Curiosity Rover Celebrates Its 2000th Martian Day on the Red Planet

Thursday, 22 March 2018 - 8:43PM
Space
Mars
NASA
Thursday, 22 March 2018 - 8:43PM
Curiosity Rover Celebrates Its 2000th Martian Day on the Red Planet
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NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
The Curiosity Rover is easily the most popular object on Mars right now. Nearly all of NASA's Mars rovers have had the same "face", but somehow Curiosity has taken on a personality as an intrepid Martian explorer who sends back cool and occasionally bizarre photos of Mars' surface.

And it's been trucking along for quite a while now, as Curiosity just celebrated its 2,000th sol on Mars. A sol is full Martian day which lasts about 1 Earth day plus an additional 37 minutes, so it's technically passed its 2000th day on Mars as we know a "day" to be, but using Earth measurements doesn't make much sense for something on a completely different planet. 

The point is, for the last 2,000 times that Mars has completed a full rotation, Curiosity has been there looking around. While there's not really an official celebration for this sort of thing, NASA did release a recent mosaic of several Curiosity photos, showing a panorama of the rover's next destination:




Shown above, the mosaic contains a looming field that Curiosity is on track to go explore. The field appears to be a dried up lakebed from a distant time when Mars likely contained prominent water; that hypothesis is based on the fact that the field appears to have deposits of clay, which need water to form. So Curiosity is going to take a closer look.

And in the background of the mosaic, you can see Mount Sharp, where Curiosity has been exploring since 2014. That's taken up the bulk of its journey so far, having landed on Mars back in 2012 and traveled 11.6 miles (18.7 kilometers) since then. 



So while Curiosity isn't the oldest active rover on Mars (that would be the Opportunity rover) and soon it won't be the newest either (the more advanced Mars 2020 rover will launch in a couple years), it's still an invaluable tool for exploring the Martian surface.

And so long as it keeps taking pictures of red Martian landscapes and weird Martian tube shapes, it'll continue to be one of the most fascinating offworld objects that we know of.
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