One Year Ago Today, Curiosity Set Wheels to Mars

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 5 2013 12:30 PM

Happy First Anniversary, Curiosity!

Curiosity self-portrait
Here's looking at you, kid. Click to enrovernate.

Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

One year ago today, millions of people held their breath as we waited word on whether or not NASA had successfully landed another rover on Mars. Unlike earlier probes, this one had a lot of publicity going in, with the crazy Rube Goldberg landing sequence immortalized in a video called “Seven Minutes of Terror”.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

On August 6, 2012, at 05:17 UTC—just after midnight Eastern US time, but August 5 to the west—that one-ton, nuclear-powered, laser-eyed rolling contraption gently touched the Martian dust, marking the end of a nine-month journey over hundreds of million of kilometers, and the beginning of one much shorter, but no less dramatic: The quest to explore the surface of Mars.

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To mark the anniversary, NASA and JPL released this video showing a year in the life of Curiosity, a series of images taken through its front HAZCAM. You can watch as the rover moves around, uses its drill, and shows us what it’s like to be on another world.

I was debating what to write for this moment, and realized I’ve already written so much it’s probably easier just to point you to those earlier words. Below are a few posts I’ve written over the course of the year, pointing out interesting images, videos, news, and science from Mars. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year, but then, a lot can happen in that time. Curiosity’s been busy, and will continue to be until the end of its nominal mission in another year. I expect the mission will get extended; it’s a lot cheaper now to continue the voyage than it was to initiate it.

And there is a whole lot left to learn on Mars. It’s another planet, another world, and we’ve seen only a tiny portion of it.

Curiosity Posts

On the way down:

The NASA JPL site has an archive of all the news press releases they’ve put out, and it’s well worth your time reading them. We’ve learned a lot about the area of Mars in which Curiosity is rolling, but up until now most of the news has been about the rover itself. As time goes on, the science will flow faster, and our mysterious next-door neighbor will become one of our closest and best-known friends.

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