Curiosity marks 10 years on Mars as discoveries continue

After successfully landing on Mars on August 6, 2012 (UTC), Curiosity continues to unlock the secrets of the Red Planet as the vehicle explores Gale Crater. Since landing, the rover has traveled over 17.5 miles (28.1 km) and made multiple scientific discoveries. Curiosity is now in the process of exploring and traversing Mount Sharp, the 5.5-kilometer-high mountain that lies in the center of Gale Crater. Journey to the Red Planet Curiosity’s journey began on November 26, 2011, when it was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in the 541 configuration. The 541 configuration signifies that the launch vehicle utilized the five-meter-diameter fairing, four solid rocket boosters (SRBs), and a single engine on the Centaur upper stage. Once it reached an initial parking orbit of 165 × 324 km (103 × 201 miles), the Centaur upper stage fired for one final time to put the vehicle on a course for Mars. Curiosity’s cruise stage (top) is mated with the conical aeroshell. Notice how one of Curiosity’s wheels is visible peeking out from the bottom of the aeroshell. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS) After deploying from the upper stage, the vehicle spent over eight months coasting through deep space and performed four…

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Curiosity marks 10 years on Mars as discoveries continue

Updated: August 6, 2022 — 10:26 am