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The Curiosity Rover Is Celebrating 10 Years on Martian Soil

Curiosity launched on an Atlas V rocket on November 26, 2011, and its trip took eight months and 10 days until it finally landed on Mars, on August 5, 2012. Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is the name of the mission that brought the rover on the Red Planet, in the Gale Crater, through a landing method that was new at the time.
Curiosity Taking a Selfie on Mars 7 photos
Curiosity Taking a Selfie on MarsMartian Surface as Seen by the Curiosity RoverMartian Surface as Seen by the Curiosity RoverMartian Surface as Seen by the Curiosity RoverCuriosity Taking a Selfie on MarsNew Rock-Drilling Method in 'Mars Yard' Test
The spacecraft descended on a parachute and during the final seconds before landing, the landing system fired a few rockets to allow it to hover, while a rope lowered Curiosity on the surface of the planet, where it began its main mission to find out if Mars was habitable in the past. During its travels, the rover made a few quite interesting discoveries, such as finding evidence of past water in form of ice, geological change and shifts in climate. Curiosity was able to achieve that because it is, after all, the biggest and at its time the most advanced ever sent to Mars.

With those instruments, the rover is analyzing powdered samples that are drilled from the rocks and soil, to discover the history of the Red Planet. Many rock samples that the rover took have been drilled from Gale crater, which used to be a lake in the distant past. They were found to contain key requirements for life, organic carbon (a carbon bound to hydrogen atom), which is a necessary condition for all known forms of life to develop. 

During his exploration, the “little” rover, which is about 9 feet and 10 inches long by 9 feet and 1 inch wide (3 meters by 2.8 meters) and about 7 feet high (2.1 metters) and weights 2,000 lbs. (900 kg), has also taken a few interesting pictures of Mars, but on top of that, quite an impressive collection of selfies that would rival a teenager's collection. Its time on Mars was not always just spent taking nice pictures and making amazing discoveries, though. Our metal hero also faced a few challenges, with drill malfunctions, system glitches, damage to its wheels, and orientation troubles.

Here is a happy birthday to you, Curiosity and to the many discoveries that you have brought us, humans.


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