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Aug. 2, 2017
Curiosity’s First Five Years of Science on Mars
Video above: Five years of Curiosity's Martian discoveries after landing day's seven minute of terror. Video Credit: NASA/JPL.
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.
Rover POV: Five Years of Curiosity Driving on Mars
Video above: A rover's-eye view of five years in Gale Crater on Mars. Video Credit: NASA/JPL.
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.
A Guide to Gale Crater
Video above: An animated guide to Gale Crater's surprising history. Video Credits: NASA/JPL.
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.
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) or Curiosity rover. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
With higher destinations ahead, Curiosity will continue exploring how this habitable world changed through time. For more about the mission, visit: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl
Image (mentioned), Videos (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Laurie Cantillo/Dwayne Brown/Tony Greicius/JPL/Guy Webster.