NASA's Mars rover Curiosity completes nine years on the red planet

The Curiosity rover recently celebrated its birthday on Mars on the night of 5 August. The robot which was launched in November 2011 and reached Mars on 5 August 2012 has been there on the red planet for the last nine years. It has been designed to have a lifespan of 14 years.

With help from the rover's observations, scientists have been able to better understand the red planet. During these nine years, the rover has travelled a little more than 25 km (a total of 16.14 miles).

NASA released a self-portrait of the Curiosity from 2018 sitting atop Vera Rubin Ridge on Mars. Image credit: NASA

The observations made by the rover have revealed that in the ancient past, the Gale crater on Mars hosted a lake and stream system. This finding indicated the possibility that the red planet was capable of supporting life, just like Earth.

Another sign of life discovered by Curiosity on Mars is the organic chemicals. These elements contain carbon which is considered to be the building blocks of life. A spike in the concentration of methane was also observed by the Curiosity Rover. Methane can be produced by both living creatures but also through abiotic processes.

On the occasion of Curiosity’s ninth birthday on the red planet, NASA shared a picture of the rover clicked in 2018. The curiosity rover was investigating the Vera Rubin Ridge when it took a picture of itself.

Curiosity tweeted to its 4.1 million followers on Twitter, letting them know it is celebrating its ninth landiversary. Usually, the lonely rover sings itself the Happy Birthday song every year.

Recently, the rover on Mars captured an image of a little rock in the Gale crater, reports The small structure is only 16.5 centimetres (6.5 inches) tall. However, scientists are excited about it due to its unusual shape.

Along with the Curiosity rover, NASA has two more robots exploring Mars - the InSight lander and the Perseverance rover. China's space agency China National Space Administration (CNSA) also has a lander-rover module on Mars - the Zhurong rover. After the US and Russia, China is only the third country to successfully land a robot on Mars.

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