Curiosity’s Year on Mars
This month marks the one-year anniversary since NASA’s rover Curiosity began exploring Mars. The 10-foot-long, six-wheeled mobile laboratory has accomplished some amazing science since it was deposited on the surface on Aug. 6, 2012, including firing a laser to create a pit in Martian soil (above). Shot from the rover’s ChemCam unit, and with an effective range of 23 feet, the million-watt laser created this one-inch-wide depression by vaporizing atoms in the dirt.
During its first year of exploring, drilling and analyzing the planet, Curiosity has helped scientists understand that Mars could have supported living microbes, and was once likely covered with running surface water and diverse environments.
Turning its robot eye from the ground to the sky on Aug. 1, 2013, Curiosity did a bit of astronomy. It caught Martian moon Phobos as it passed directly in front of another moon, Deimos. The rover’s telephoto-lens camera was the first to capture one moon eclipsing another from the surface of the planet.
Curiosity’s path through Aug. 16, 2013:
All images courtesy NASA.