It seems like just yesterday that NASA landed its largest-ever interplanetary rover, Curiosity, on the surface of Mars. But now, after quite a bit of roving, drilling rocks, zapping them with lasers, and uncovering evidence of past liquid water and an environment previously hospitable to microbial life, Curiosity is gearing up to celebrate its first full year of operations on the Red Planet (in Earth time, that is). In advance of the milestone on Tuesday, August 6th, NASA published a two-minute long video today of 548 images Curiosity captured along its mission so far.
The imagery, taken with Curiosity's forward facing, fisheye lens hazard-avoidance camera (Hazcam), includes lots of shots of the rover's 7-foot-long robotic arm lowering into the Martian surface to drill for rock samples. It also shows shadow of the rover's own car-sized body flickering across Mars as the sun rises and sets and many shots of the rover's tracks in the dirt. There's no soundtrack provided, so the resulting silence adds to the eerie, meditative effect of the entire video, one of our best shots yet of the desolate world next door, some 228 million miles away.
NASA will also be commemorating the rover's first 12 months with several lectures from scientists on its findings thus far, which will be streamed live from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory website on August 15th and 16th. Curiosity's mission is due to continue for at least another 11 months, but it's likely to be extended longer if the rover remains in good working condition as it treks over to its primary target, a 3.4-mile-high mountain known as Mount Sharp.