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NASA Curiosity Rover Turns 2,000 Sols, Sends Back Postcard

If one would be keeping score of the number of days spent on Mars by NASA’s rovers, that score would now show 5,000 to 2,000.
Photo sent back by Curiosity on Mars anniversary 1 photo
Sometime back in February, NASA announced its Opportunity rover had been on Mars long enough for the machine to see the sun rise 5,000 times. On Friday, the space agency made a similar announcement for another of its rovers, the Curiosity, who celebrates 2,000 days spent on Martian soil.

To mark the event, the rover sent back an image mosaic of exactly that: reddish Martian soil, captured in a still taken back in January. In return and as a means to wish it happy sol-day, NASA sent it nothing.

The agency’s engineers have however madea gift for the Rover a few weeks ago, one which they sent to Mars via the usual methods: the remote repair of a malfunctioning drill used by the rover to collect Martian soil samples.

Curiosity arrived on Mars in 2012. It has been built to be the size of a small SUV, measuring 9 feet 10 inches in length and 9 feet 1 inches in width (3 m by 2.8 m). The rover travels on 20-inch (50.8 cm) wheels which allow it to roll over obstacles up to 25 inches (65 centimeters) high.

In its second year on the Red Planet, Curiosity found evidence of an ancient freshwater lake which could have offered all the basic chemical ingredients for microbial life. In 2014 the rover arrived at Mount Sharp.

The data sent back by Curiosity made scientists stipulate that habitable conditions have existed on Mars for at least several million years.

Based on the Curiosity, NASA is currently in the process of developing a new rover, which will be launched in 2020 aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket. It will be used to perform tests aimeda at finding the best ways for humans to create oxygen on Mars.


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