Mars Rover Curiosity Celebrates One Year On Red Planet [Video]

The Mars rover Curiosity is gearing up for its one year anniversary on the Red Planet. And in celebration, the team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have released a new video.

The $2.5 billion mission launched in late 2011 and landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. In the 12 months since then, Curiosity has sent back over 190 gigabits of data, including more than 70,000 images of its journey.

The rover has also fired more than 75,000 laser shots to study the composition of rocks on Mars, reports NBC News. But one thing that Curiosity hasn’t done is travel a long distance. The six-wheeled, SUV-sized machine has traveled just one mile from its landing spot in the last 12 months.

But, despite the small movement, the Mars rover has already achieved its main science goal — before it has even gotten close to Mount Sharp, its ultimate destination.

The Mars rover Curiosity has fascinated many since its dramatic sky crane landing last year. And given all it has achieved so far, the small rover will likely continue to surprise its followers for years to come.

While the rover spent the first six months testing its equipment and gearing up for the long drive, it also discovered that the Red Planet was once able to support microbial life — a huge finding for the mission still in its early stages.

And now, the rover will make its way to Mount Sharp, a mountain in the middle of the Gale Crater that has exposed geological layers, notes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Using those layers, scientists hope to delve into the Red Planet’s past and find more evidence of past life on Mars. The mission’s other goal is to monitor radiation and weather on the surface of Mars. The information will be useful when NASA and other agencies finally send astronauts to the planet.

Have you been following the Mars rover Curiosity and its journey to explore the Red Planet’s past?

[Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech via Wikimedia Commons]