Five Years Ago Today, the Curiosity Rover Landed on Mars


Five years ago on August 5, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars to search for evidence of water near Mount Sharp.

Using a “sky crane” landing method, Curiosity was placed on the Martian surface on its wheels. The space vehicle, which weighs over one ton, or 900 kilograms, was suspended towards the rocky ground by the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft during its descent phase.

Much to the glee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on August 5 2012, Curiosity transmitted radio confirmation and the first images from the surface of Mars. The first sights included dramatic, black and white views of Mount Sharp, the central peak within Gale Crater.

An artist's rendering from 2011 of Curiosity being dropped onto Mars.


In its first year while moving steadily towards Mount Sharp, an analyses of rocks collected by Curiosity determined that the area could have once supported living microbes. The area in Gale Crater where the rover was exploring showed evidence that it could have at one point been the end of an ancient river system or an intermittently wet lake bed, according to NASA.

Since reaching Mount Sharp in 2014, Curiosity has studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock, providing scientists with the observations and evidence to support the theory that Mars once hosted habitable conditions.

Check out the video below that shows off Curiosity’s eventful tenure on Mars so far.

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