Curiosity Rover’s First Martian Anniversary

Happy (Martian) Birthday Curiosity!

J. C. Conway

A Martian year is 687 Earth days long. Accordingly, NASA’s Curiosity Rover reaches its one-year Martian Anniversary on June 24, 2014 (Earth Calendar), 687 days after its mission began.

Curiosity has already accomplished the mission’s main goal of determining whether Mars once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. One of Curiosity’s first major findings after landing on the Red Planet in August 2012 was an ancient riverbed at its landing site. Nearby, at an area known as Yellowknife Bay, the mission met its main goal of determining whether the Martian Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life forms. The answer, a historic “yes,” came from two mudstone slabs that the rover sampled with its drill. Analysis of these samples revealed the site was once a lakebed with mild water, the essential elemental ingredients for life, and a type of chemical energy source used by some microbes on Earth. If…

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