Sunday was the fifth anniversary of Curiosity’s landing on Mars. Like its predecessors, Curiosity has gone on to exceed all of its expectations, and is still going strong despite considerable wheel tread damage. In honor of the occasion, NASA has released this time-lapse video (with a relaxing musical accompaniment) of all five years, as seen by the rover’s hazard avoidance cameras. Note the times when it switches to driving backwards, to spread out the wear on its wheels. 😉
One Martian year, that is. Today is Sol 688 for the Curiosity rover, which means it has now completed one full circuit of the Sun whilst roving the red planet, and is on track to reach its target of Aolis Mons (aka Mount Sharp) about this time in 2015. The mission was originally intended to last just one Martian year, but last year, they were given an indefinite mission extension, which gave them the luxury of dawdling on the way to Mount Sharp, collecting science at locations they’ll never be able to visit again.
One year ago, this happened:
Since then, Curiosity has been making tracks. Cautiously, at first….
…but with increasing confidence, as it rolls towards its destination of Mount Sharp.
It’s still got quite a ways to go, but the test phase is definitely over. Now it’s the operational phase, and with its nuclear powered battery, Curiosity will be able to truck right along, summer or winter.
Now: onward, to Mount Sharp!