A Day in Astronomy: Curiosity Rover Arrives on Mars

Image (Credit): Artist’s illustration of the Curiosity rover using its drill to core a rock sample on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On this day in 2012, the Mars rover Curiosity landed on Mars (using Eastern Time). The rover was sent to the Red Planet to to explore the Gale crater and look for evidence that Mars had the conditions needed to support microscopic life in its past. A video from NASA walks you through the rover’s exploration to date and also highlights Maggie, Curiosity’s duplicate here on Earth.

An anniversary posting from NASA explains more about the mission, including issues with the rover’s drilling arm, wheels, and power supply. Life on Mars can be tough.

That said, the rover has already learned a lot after 10 years and it is expected to continue exploring in the years to come. NASA noted:

…most important, Curiosity has determined that liquid water as well as the chemical building blocks and nutrients needed for supporting life were present for at least tens of millions of years in Gale Crater. The crater once held a lake, the size of which waxed and waned over time. Each layer higher up on Mount Sharp serves as a record of a more recent era of Mars’ environment.

You can track the progress of the Curiosity rover using this website.

Image (Credit): NASA’s duplicate Mars rover called Maggie. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/JHU-APL)