Space

Five years on, Curiosity is still capturing amazing images of Mars

Five years on, Curiosity is st...
Another Curiosity selfie, this time from 2015
Another Curiosity selfie, this time from 2015
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The map of Curiosity's journey over the last five years
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The map of Curiosity's journey over the last five years
The rover has recently rolled over these sensors as NASA engineers try to find ways to optimize the slowly failing tires
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The rover has recently rolled over these sensors as NASA engineers try to find ways to optimize the slowly failing tires
In late 2016 Curiosity captured some spectacular images from the Murray Buttes region near Mt Sharp
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In late 2016 Curiosity captured some spectacular images from the Murray Buttes region near Mt Sharp
In late 2016 Curiosity captured some spectacular images from the Murray Buttes region near Mt Sharp
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In late 2016 Curiosity captured some spectacular images from the Murray Buttes region near Mt Sharp
In late 2016 Curiosity captured some spectacular images from the Murray Buttes region near Mt Sharp
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In late 2016 Curiosity captured some spectacular images from the Murray Buttes region near Mt Sharp
A recent shot taken in 2017 as Curiosity moves through several different geological formations
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A recent shot taken in 2017 as Curiosity moves through several different geological formations
Taken in March 2017, the images of these small sand dunes show ripples in the sand at a small scale not seen on Earth
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Taken in March 2017, the images of these small sand dunes show ripples in the sand at a small scale not seen on Earth
A look at the various sites Curiosity has drilled for rock samples over its journey 
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A look at the various sites Curiosity has drilled for rock samples over its journey 
In October 2016 the rover found and examined this iron-nickel meteorite it stumbled across on its journey
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In October 2016 the rover found and examined this iron-nickel meteorite it stumbled across on its journey
From December 2016, these rocks show patterns that may have originated in drying mud
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From December 2016, these rocks show patterns that may have originated in drying mud
This dark mound is called "Ireson Hill" and was photographed in early 2017
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This dark mound is called "Ireson Hill" and was photographed in early 2017
More fascinating glimpses of the Murray Buttes region
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More fascinating glimpses of the Murray Buttes region
More fascinating glimpses of the Murray Buttes region
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More fascinating glimpses of the Murray Buttes region
More fascinating glimpses of the Murray Buttes region
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More fascinating glimpses of the Murray Buttes region
More fascinating glimpses of the Murray Buttes region
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More fascinating glimpses of the Murray Buttes region
Looking out over the Bagnold Dunes in early April 2017
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Looking out over the Bagnold Dunes in early April 2017
Looking out over the Bagnold Dunes in early April 2017
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Looking out over the Bagnold Dunes in early April 2017
This dark mound is called "Ireson Hill" and was photographed in early 2017
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This dark mound is called "Ireson Hill" and was photographed in early 2017
Martian sand dunes
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Martian sand dunes
Curiosity is known for its obsession with taking selfies
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Curiosity is known for its obsession with taking selfies
Captured in 2014, this shot looks back at the Kimberly Waypoint
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Captured in 2014, this shot looks back at the Kimberly Waypoint
This mosaic involves slight color correction and the artificial addition of a sunset
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This mosaic involves slight color correction and the artificial addition of a sunset
Crystals seen in Martian rock
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Crystals seen in Martian rock
An outcrop called "Point Lake"
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An outcrop called "Point Lake"
A raw color view showing the rover's wheel tracks after crossing a sand dune
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A raw color view showing the rover's wheel tracks after crossing a sand dune
This shows the variations in color corrections applied to images captured under Martian light
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This shows the variations in color corrections applied to images captured under Martian light
A mosaic of separate images showing Mt Sharp
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A mosaic of separate images showing Mt Sharp
This outcrop known by scientists as "Shaler" is a fascinating mystery to scientists
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This outcrop known by scientists as "Shaler" is a fascinating mystery to scientists
This rock captured in late 2015 was found to have unusually high levels of silica
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This rock captured in late 2015 was found to have unusually high levels of silica
At the top of this picture NASA scientists spotted a mysterious shiny rock yet to be identified
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At the top of this picture NASA scientists spotted a mysterious shiny rock yet to be identified
The circle marks the location where Curiousty originally landed in 2012
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The circle marks the location where Curiousty originally landed in 2012
An early photo from Curiosity in 2012 as the rover started calibrating its cameras
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An early photo from Curiosity in 2012 as the rover started calibrating its cameras
The rover's first look at its destination, Mt Sharp
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The rover's first look at its destination, Mt Sharp
One of the first early, color-enhanced images sent back by Curiosity in August 2012
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One of the first early, color-enhanced images sent back by Curiosity in August 2012
The first image sent back from the rover after landing on Mars
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The first image sent back from the rover after landing on Mars
Another Curiosity selfie, this time from 2015
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Another Curiosity selfie, this time from 2015
"Whale Rock" in 2014 displayed evidence of past lake current on the surface
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"Whale Rock" in 2014 displayed evidence of past lake current on the surface
The "Pahrump" outcrop at the base of Mt Sharp
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The "Pahrump" outcrop at the base of Mt Sharp
Wheel tracks captured in 2014
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Wheel tracks captured in 2014
Evidence of past water flows on the planet's surface
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Evidence of past water flows on the planet's surface
The "Namib" dune captured in late 2015
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The "Namib" dune captured in late 2015
The "Namib" dune captured in late 2015
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The "Namib" dune captured in late 2015

As of August 5, 2017, NASA's Curiosity rover will have been cruising the landscape of Mars for five years. This US$2.5 billion-dollar mission landed the largest, and most technologically sophisticated, rover ever to roam the surface of the Red Planet. Over the course of its mission Curiosity has captured more than 200,000 images and drilled over a dozen rock samples, and it isn't done yet.

Initially, Curiosity's primary mission was scheduled to last two years (or one Martian year of 98 weeks), but the architecture of the rover has proven to be surprisingly resilient, despite some mechanical scares along the way. The rover has overcome short circuits, unexpected software glitches, and hazardous terrain while delivering a vast array of exciting insights into the history of our mysterious neighbor.

A recent shot taken in 2017 as Curiosity moves through several different geological formations
A recent shot taken in 2017 as Curiosity moves through several different geological formations

New Atlas explored the rich and varied discoveries uncovered by Curiosity in an expansive feature last year, but the last 12 months of the mission have continued to deliver new and unexpected revelations. As the rover trekked along on its road trip towards Mt Sharp it sent back some stunning images of layered rock formations and also offered us more evidence that the planet could have supported life in the past.

Martian sand dunes
Martian sand dunes

Driving across Mars for five years is apparently starting to take a toll on the rover though, with two of Curiosity's raised treads, called grousers, breaking early in 2017. The rover has currently traversed 10.57 miles (17 km) and mission control is now being very careful to choose routes that avoid sharp rocks. NASA is confident there is still life left in Curiosity and it is expected, at the very least, to reach its current final destination, about 3 mi (4.8 km) further away.

This dark mound is called "Ireson Hill" and was photographed in early 2017
This dark mound is called "Ireson Hill" and was photographed in early 2017

Over the last five years Curiosity has sent back some of the most spectacular, high-resolution images we have ever seen of Mars' surface. Celebrate this magnificent human achievement by visiting our Curiosity Rover photo gallery and revisiting some of the most amazing views captured by Curiosity over the course of its landmark mission.

Happy 5th birthday Curiosity!

Source: NASA

6 comments
Lamb
Anybody know what its power source is? Five years and still going?
owlbeyou
I would imagine that as far off as the sun may be, the solar paneling is still able to charge Curiosity's batteries, ever so slowly. Truly remarkable close-up images of a place so far away, Earth like and alien at the same time. I have the impression that Mars' sand is often finer than what we have here on Earth, and some of the rock outcrops are not formed by ancient waters but by sandblasting from windstorms.
pro
@Lamb - nuclear power
Fritz
Powersource: Heat by radioactive decay -> peltier elements Same as in your camping drink cooler just vice versa. Anything found so far?
JustinTWoods
Curiosity has a Plutonium-powered radioisotope thermoelectric generator. Starting with 125 watts, new, it should be around 116 watts now, with linear decay.
CraigAllenCorson
Somebody forgot to put in the circle that "marks the location where Curiousty originally landed in 2012", unless I am to believe it was one of those craters.