Curiosity Rover Celebrates 1 (Martian) Year on Mars
Curiosity has come a literal full circle around Mars' 687-earth-day orbit of the Sun today! The 2.5 billion dollar, 1-ton robot has been exploring the martian surface nonstop since it's initial contact with Mars' surface on the night of August 5th, 2012. So, what has Curiosity achieved in it's first Martian year?
Despite momentary technological setbacks, the rover has been able to excavate sites deep within the rocky surface, measure the changing radiation levels within Mar's atmosphere, search for methane, capture images of the planet's Moons,and still somehow find the time to snap casual wide-eyed selfies of itself with the martian landscape in the background.
While the rover has provided us with a lot of fun and wonderment over the last 687 days, the scientific pay-off from the mission has been huge. It's discovery of the remnants of a riverbed near its landing site gave almost single-handedly changed the way we look at the history of the planet. Before Curiosity landed, researchers could only speculate about Mars' potentially life-supporting past, but with each month that Curiosity has been the planet, we can say with increasing conviction that Mars was once a veritable oasis compared to the barren, dusty world we see now.
[A map of the many miles travelled by Curiosity since its arrival on Mars]
Keep up the good work Curiosity!