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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 7:29 EDT

Curiosity Busy As A Bee On The Red Planet Since Launch A Year Ago

November 27, 2012
Image Caption: Taken during mobility testing on June 3, 2011, this image is of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

[WATCH VIDEO: Curiosity Headed To Mars]

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

Monday (Nov 26) marked the one year anniversary since Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft was launched carrying NASA´s next-generation Mars Curiosity rover. After more than 7 months on a journey to the Red Planet, Curiosity touched down on August 6, 2012 in what has been referred to as “seven minutes of terror.”

In the 16 weeks since its landing in the Gale Crater on Mars, Curiosity has been busy as a bee. It has so far returned more than 23,000 raw images, has driven nearly 1,700 feet and has begun helping researchers here on Earth better understand the environmental history of our sister planet.

The rover also spent weeks at a site called “Rocknest” collecting soil samples and analyzing Martian sample contents using its onboard CheMin instrument. After finishing up duties at Rocknest, Curiosity moved on to a site called “Point Lake.” Here, the rover team is looking to find a target for first use of the rover´s rock-sampling drill.

The mission, which is expected to last at least two years, will also see Curiosity´s 10 scientific instruments be implemented within the Gale Crater to determine if conditions on the Red Planet were ever favorable enough to support microbial life.

NASA´s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of CALTECH, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA´s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. JPL designed and built Curiosity.

Follow the Curiosity mission on Facebook and Twitter.


Source: Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online