Four Years of Curiosity on Mars; Mission receives Two-year Extension

Four Years of Curiosity on Mars; Mission receives Two-year Extension

It has been four years since NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has been exploring the Red Planet. The car-sized robotic rover touched the Martian surface on August 6, 2012, with an aim to discover if ancient Mars had conditions suitable for microbial life.

Just a few months after landing on the planet, Curiosity team on earth reported that the rover succeeded in finding clues on gases like hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, carbon, nitrogen and sulphur. All these are essential for life. It was the rover’s major objective.

What’s next? There’re reports that the Curiosity mission was scheduled to end in 2016, but recently, NASA gave a two-year extension to the mission on the Red Planet. Professor John Bridges from the University of Leicester will continue his job as a part of the extended mission team.

The four-year and still ongoing journey of Curiosity on Mars is incredible, said Prof. Bridges. As of August 9, the rover has completed about 1,421 Martian days. Data collected by the rover during over 13 kilometers journey, it has collected important data that helped scientists in revealing several secrets on the planet, the professor added.

Previously, it was believed that Mars is a simple basaltic planet, but Curiosity has changed that notion. The rover’s camera has captured more than 350,000 images of the planet. “Our plutonium power source can keep us going for years to come. For the next few years we will gradually climb further up Mount Sharp, at the moment we are in foothills called Murray Buttes”, Prof. Bridges added in a statement.

Recently, NASA, the agency’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and Curiosity team celebrated the rover’s four years on the Martian surface and launched a new smartphone game, which allows people to control their own MSL across Mars searching for signs of water.



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