Feature

08.02.2017

Five Years Ago and 154 Million Miles Away: Touchdown!



More to Explore in Five-Year-Old Mars Rover's Future
Five years since it landed near Mount Sharp on Mars in August 2017 and nearly three years since reaching the base of the mountain, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is climbing toward multiple layers of Mount Sharp visible in this view from the rover's Mast Camera.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, which landed near Mount Sharp five years ago this week, is examining clues on that mountain about long-ago lakes on Mars.

On Aug. 5, 2012, the mission team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, exalted at radio confirmation and first images from Curiosity after the rover's touchdown using a new "sky crane" landing method. Transmissions at the speed of light took nearly 14 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, which that day were about 154 million miles (248 million kilometers) apart.




Those first images included a view of Mount Sharp. The mission accomplished its main goal in less than a year, before reaching the mountain. It determined that an ancient lake environment on this part of Mars offered the conditions needed for life -- fresh water, other key chemical ingredients and an energy source.




On Mount Sharp since 2014, Curiosity has examined environments where both water and wind have left their marks. Having studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock with signs of lakes and later groundwater, Curiosity's international science team concluded that habitable conditions lasted for at least millions of years. With higher destinations ahead, Curiosity will continue exploring how this habitable world changed through time. For more about the mission, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov/msl


All Related Images
  • This artist's concept depicts the moment that NASA's Curiosity rover touches down onto the Martian surface.
    Curiosity Touching Down, Artist's Concept
  • The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team in the MSL Mission Support Area react after learning the the Curiosity rove has landed safely on Mars and images start coming in at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Mars, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 in Pasadena, Calif. The MSL Rover named Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.
    The Mars Science Laboratory Team
  • Clear Views on Mars
    Clear Views on Mars
  • This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from Aug. 5, 2015, shows the vehicle above the "Buckskin" rock target in the "Marias Pass" area of lower Mount Sharp. The MAHLI camera on Curiosity's robotic arm took dozens of images that were stitched together into this sweeping panorama.
    Curiosity Low-Angle Self-Portrait at 'Buckskin' Drilling Site on Mount Sharp
  • Two sizes of ripples are evident in this Dec. 13, 2015, view of a top of a Martian sand dune, from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. Sand dunes and the smaller type of ripples also exist on Earth. The larger ripples are a type not seen on Earth nor previously recognized as a distinct type on Mars.
    Two Sizes of Ripples on Surface of Martian Sand Dune
  • This view of a Martian rock slab called "Old Soaker," which has a network of cracks that may have originated in drying mud, comes from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. It was taken on Dec. 20, 2016. The slab is about 4 feet long.
    Mars Rover's Mastcam View of Possible Mud Cracks
  • This early 2017 look ahead from the Mastcam of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover includes four geological layers to be examined by the mission, and higher reaches of Mount Sharp beyond the planned study area. "Vera Rubin Ridge" sits just above the reddish foreground rocks of the Murray formation.
    View Toward 'Vera Rubin Ridge' on Mount Sharp, Mars
  • Five years since it landed near Mount Sharp on Mars in August 2017 and nearly three years since reaching the base of the mountain, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is climbing toward multiple layers of Mount Sharp visible in this view from the rover's Mast Camera.
    More to Explore in Five-Year-Old Mars Rover's Future

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1077 / 202-358-1726
laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov / dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov




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