Curiosity rover celebrates one Martian year on the red planet
Watch the video above: What has Curiosity done for us lately?
TORONTO – The rover that endured seven minutes of terror is celebrating its first anniversary on Mars – again.
While NASA‘s Mars Science Laboratory, otherwise known as Curiosity, celebrated its one-year anniversary of its arrival on the red planet last August, June 24 is its first full Martian year (687 Earth days).
Though Mars and Earth are similar, the Martian day is just a bit longer than Earth’s, and its year, even more so.
Whereas one day on Earth is roughly 24 hours (23.934 to be exact), one day on Mars – called a Sol – takes 24.623 hours. It takes Earth 365.26 days to complete one orbit around the sun and Mars, 686.98.
So what has Curiosity accomplished in its year abroad? Here are just a few things:
Assessed radiation levels on the flight to Mars
What it means: If humans are to settle on the Mars, we’ll first have to be able to endure the radiation levels during our voyage. Curiosity’s findings will help scientists design better protection for spacecraft and humans.
Found that Martian dirt is a water reservoir
What it means: Humans settling on Mars will need some way of getting water. Sending it to Mars would be costly. If scientists can manage to find a way to get it out of the dirt, that may mean a source of water for human settlements.
Confirmed Gale Crater was once habitable
What it means: Curiosity analyzed two mudstone slabs and found that the area was once a lake bed with mild water, meaning that life could have once existed there. That helps us better understand planets, including our own.
Curiosity’s work isn’t done. It’s still analyzing the ground. But its real goal is to get to Mount Sharp, a mountain that reaches more than five kilometres high. Curiosity still has roughly four kilometres to go.
But for a rover that moves slowly across the rocky terrain and stops to do scientific measurements along the way – it has travelled a total of 7.9 km as of June 24 – it could be some time before it finally reaches its destination.
© Shaw Media, 2014