One year ago, after “seven minutes of terror“, Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory, the 900kg rover Curiosity, landed safely on the Red Planet and was soon taking a look around. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems] Full image and caption here.
This scene combines seven images from the telephoto-lens camera on the right side of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. The component images were taken between 11:39 and 11:43 a.m., local solar time, on 343rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (July 24, 2013). That was shortly before Curiosity’s Sol 343 drive of 111 feet (33.7 meters). The rover had driven 205 feet (62.4 meters) on Sol 342 to arrive at the location providing this vista. The center of the scene is toward the southwest.
Here’s how the last twelve months looked from Curiosity’s point of view – in 2 minutes.
And a short video from JPL News on the challenges and achievements of Curiosity’s first year on Mars.
JPL News are currently live-streaming on Curiosity’s year
From the Nasa/JPL press release
Evidence of a past environment well suited to support microbial life came within the first eight months of the 23-month primary mission from analysis of the first sample material ever collected by drilling into a rock on Mars.
“We now know Mars offered favorable conditions for microbial life billions of years ago,” said the mission’s project scientist, John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “It has been gratifying to succeed, but that has also whetted our appetites to learn more. We hope those enticing layers at Mount Sharp will preserve a broad diversity of other environmental conditions that could have affected habitability.”
The mission measured natural radiation levels on the trip to Mars and is monitoring radiation and weather on the surface of Mars, which will be helpful for designing future human missions to the planet. The Curiosity mission also found evidence Mars lost most of its original atmosphere through processes that occurred at the top of the atmosphere. NASA’s next mission to Mars, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN), is being prepared for launch in November to study those processes in the upper atmosphere.