Curiosity continues Mars exploration

Curiosity self-portrait

PASADENA, Calif. — Curiosity, NASA's Mars rover is slowly headed to Mt. Sharp while scientists back on this planet celebrate its first year of exploration.

Curiosity staged a dramatic touchdown on the Red Planet on Aug. 6, 2012 after a 350 million mile journey through space.

NASA's rover has already achieved its main science goal of revealing ancient Mars could have supported life. The mobile laboratory also is guiding designs for future planetary missions.

"Successes of our Curiosity -- that dramatic touchdown a year ago and the science findings since then -- advance us toward further exploration, including sending humans to an asteroid and Mars," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Wheel tracks now, will lead to boot prints later."

Curiosity has provided:

  • More than 190 gigabits of data
  • 36,700 full images and 35,000 thumbnail images
  • Fired more than 75,000 laser shots to investigate the composition of targets
  • Collected and analyzed sample material from two rocks
  • Driven more than one mile (1.6 kilometers)

The rover, which is the size of a car, traveled 764 yards (699 meters) in the past four weeks since leaving a group of science targets where it worked for more than six months The rover is making its way to the base of Mount Sharp, where it will investigate lower layers of a mountain that rises three miles from the floor of the crater.