By now, nobody knows the surface of Mars better than NASA's Curiosity rover. The robotic explorer has been venturing across the Red Planet for more than seven years, traveling across the Martian terrain on its four wheels.
Meanwhile, we mortals can only try to imagine what the cold, dry desolate planet looks, feels, and sounds like until now. A new video captured by Curiosity puts us right on the surface of Mars as though we were there, revealing the mysterious, ghostly beauty of the planet's barren landscape.
The now-viral video was tweeted out by the Wonder of Science Twitter account, capturing the attention of planetary lovers as it was retweeted over 40,000 times. It even got the attention of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
The space entrepreneur has continuously expressed his ambitious plans to colonize the Red Planet, and replied to the video tweet with a simple phrase that sums it up; "Destiny."
In the video, the Martian surface appears as a harsh yet beautiful desert, complete with sand and rock that stretch across the planet's dry landscape. It's not actually audio and video from the same moment, though.
The footage is complemented by the sound of Martian winds blowing in the background as captured by NASA's InSight Lander, which landed on Mars in November, 2018.
Mars is a dry, desolate world today, but scientists believe it was once a warm, wet planet that may have hosted some form of microbial life. But over billions of years, Mars lost its atmosphere and, as a result, its water, leaving it to become the cold, dry world it is today.
The video compilation truly translates the feeling of being on another planet, a feat that humans hope to achieve by the 2030s, as part of NASA's plans to send the first human mission to Mars.
For now, Curiosity provides us with the closest thing we've got to actually being there.
Curiosity was launched into space in November 2011 and landed on Mars on August 5, 2012. It followed in the tracks of its predecessors Sojourner, Opportunity, and Spirit, and will soon be followed by the Perseverance, which is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18.
The car-sized Curiosity rover was sent out on a two-year mission to find out whether Mars ever had the right environmental conditions to support life during its early history. But more than seven years later, the rover is still roaming the Martian surface looking for clues and collecting evidence.
Since it landed on Mars in 2012, Curiosity has been roaming the Gale Crater and discovered a lake that may have contained water billions of years ago and an environment that could have possibly supported microbial life.