On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Mars Curiosity Rover, NASA scientists and operators shared fond memories

As NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover turns 10, scientists and workers celebrate fond memories and lessons from the Red Planet mission

  • On August 5, 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover slowly made its way to the surface of the Red Planet and began its journey
  • “It plays a special role in NASA’s Mars exploration program,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist.
  • JPL systems engineer Sophia Mitchell talked about her work as an “Uber space pilot”, piloting the Curiosity rover from over 100 million miles away
  • “We can’t wait to see you on Mars someday. I can tell you that Curiosity will help protect you,” Vasavada told a child who asked a question.

Good Earth diversity to one of NASA’s proudest achievements.

On August 5, 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover made its way to the surface of the Red Planet and began a journey that lasted eight years longer than expected, gathering valuable data on whether life can be supported there – and whether those conditions existed in the past.

As part of the celebration, scientists and mission members from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Goddard Space Flight Center, as well as the United States Geological Survey, took part in a Twitter space, basically a kind of chat room, where they shared fond memories. and lessons from the historic mission to the fourth rock from the sun.

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On August 5, 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover slowly made its way to the surface of the Red Planet. The rover used the arm-end camera in April and May 2014 to take dozens of combined component images in this self-portrait in which the rover pierced a sandstone target called “Windjana”.

“It plays a special role in NASA’s Mars exploration program,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist. “The ultimate goal is to understand if life ever evolved on Mars, if it existed in the past or even today.”

To do this, Curiosity was launched on November 26, 2011 from Cape Canaveral. After its months-long journey through space, the 2,000-pound, car-sized rover landed inside the 3.7 billion-year-old, 100-mile-long Gale Crater and began its methodical exploration of the surface of Mars.

JPL systems engineer Sophia Mitchell talked about her work as an “Uber space pilot,” while piloting the Curiosity rover from over 100 million miles away.

“It’s definitely a dream job,” he said. “I’m an aerospace engineer and I really think of myself as an explorer and so the last exploration job on my mind is driving a huge scientific robot to a different planet.”

“It plays a special role in NASA’s Mars exploration program,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist. “The ultimate goal is to understand if life ever evolved on Mars, if it existed in the past or even today.” The red planet is pictured above in a NASA flyer

NASA scientists say the now dusty Mars was once covered in bodies of water, an indication that this arid planet may have hosted some form of life, or at least had the ability to do so.  The Mars Curiosity Rover took this panorama (above) of the Red Planet

NASA scientists say the now dusty Mars was once covered in bodies of water, an indication that this arid planet may have hosted some form of life, or at least had the ability to do so. The Mars Curiosity Rover took this panorama (above) of the Red Planet

What the rover learned helped scientists paint a picture of what the planet looked like billions of years ago. The answer is that Mars, now dusty, was once covered in bodies of water, an indication that this arid planet may have harbored some form of life, or at least had the ability to do so.

This possibility was reinforced by Curiosity’s discovery of organic molecules found while drilling into shallow parts of the planet’s surface. The team spoke enthusiastically about future missions, such as the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover, which will be able to dig deeper than Curiosity’s instruments allow.

While the past decade has been filled with discoveries, it has also been fraught with challenges. What was supposed to be a two-year mission has been extended indefinitely and Curiosity has begun to show her age, with wheel wear and a drill that doesn’t work as well as it once did.

As Mitchell noted, when something breaks down on Mars, “we can’t send someone there to fix it. We just have to figure out how to use what we have to still be able to do what we want.”

Although the robots have visited our closest celestial neighbor, it is a journey that no human has yet been able to make.

The team enthusiastically approved the possibility of humanity reaching Mars someday, a journey that will be aided by vital radiation data collected by Curiosity – and likely with the help of Elon Musk’s spaceship, after successfully conducting a orbital launch test and get people to the moon first.

“I can only say that I hope you go to Mars,” Vasavada told a curious child who was chosen to ask a question. “We can’t wait to see you one day on Mars and I can tell you that Curiosity will help protect you.”

As Mitchell observed, when something breaks on Mars,

As Mitchell noted, when something breaks down on Mars, “we can’t send someone there to fix it. We just have to figure out how to use what we have to still be able to do what we want.” This is the artistic concept of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft approaching Mars

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