NASA’s curiosity rover tells you what it’s like to spend five years on Mars

Curiosity has found enough evidence to support the theory that ancient Mars had the right conditions to support microbial life.

world Updated: Aug 06, 2017 16:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
NASA,Curiosity rover,Red planet
A selfie on Mars: Curiosity extended its robotic arm and used the camera on the arm’s end to capture this self portrait on October 6, 2015. The image was taken at the Big Sky site, where its drill collected the mission’s fifth taste of Mount Sharp. (NASA)

Ever wondered what life on Mars would be like? Is Mars habitable? Would that be a possibility in the distant future?

To find answers to all these questions and study the surface of Mars, Nasa sent Curiosity Rover to the Red planet on August 5, 2012.

The mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, exalted at radio confirmation and first images from Curiosity after the rover’s touchdown using a new “sky crane” landing method.

Transmissions at the speed of light took nearly 14 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, which that day were about 248 million kilometres apart, NASA said. Those first images included a view of Mount Sharp.

Since then Curiosity’s journey has been similar to that of Mark Watney’s in the movie ‘The Martian.’

Within weeks of its arrival inside Mars’ Gale Crater, Curiosity hit scientific pay dirt and found an ancient lake.

Since then, Curiosity has found enough evidence to support the theory that ancient Mars had the right conditions to support microbial life. There was proof that the red planet once had fresh water, other key chemical ingredients and an energy source.

Here’s a look at the best and most astonishing images and footage that Curiosity has sent in these 5 years.

Nathan Bridges Dune on a Martian Mountain: A rippled linear dune of dark Martian sand dominates this full-circle panorama from the Mastcam of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. This dune was a research stop of the mission’s campaign to investigate active Martian dunes. (NASA)
Dunes: Area lining the northwestern edge of Mount Sharp. The scene combines multiple images taken with the Mast Camera on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on September 25, 2015. Dunes are larger than wind-blown ripples of sand or dust that Curiosity and other rovers have visited previously. (NASA)

The $2.5 billion rover was meant to last for only two earth years. It has long outlived its warranty and is still going strong.

Having studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock with signs of lakes and later groundwater, Curiosity’s international science team concluded that habitable conditions lasted for at least millions of years.

Here’s to hoping that Curiosity is around if and when humans make their descent onto the planet.

First Published: Aug 06, 2017 16:13 IST