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”.
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.
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.
On the way down:
Landing on Mars: Seven Minutes of Terror
OK, One More Curiosity Descent Video
Watch As Curiosity Gently Touches Down and Its Heat Shield Slams Into Mars
VIDEO of Curiosity’s Descent… from the Rover Cam Itself!
Mars Orbiter Catches Pic of Curiosity on Its Way Down!
On the surface:
Curiosity Landing Site: The Whole Mess
Gallery: Curiosity’s Triumphant First Week on Mars
Mars Probe Sees Other Mars Probe on Mars
Curiosity’s Parachute Flaps in the Martian Wind
Curiosity’s Looking a Little Blue
Curiosity Got Shaved?
Standing on Mars
The Single Greatest Vacation Picture Ever Taken
Now You Will Feel the Power of a Fully Armed and Operational Mars Rover
Pew! Pew! Take That, Mars!
Curiosity’s Chem Lab on Mars
Curiosity Finds Cool Chemistry on Mars but No Organics
Ancient Mars Had Conditions Suitable for Life
Clues to the Past Atmosphere of Mars (on NASA site)
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.