NASA today celebrated the one year (Earth year) anniversary of Mars rover Curiosity’s landing on Mars. The rover’s landing was a technical feat for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who celebrated with plenty of cheering and tears. The event also briefly ignited Americans’ passion for exploration and pride in their space program.
One year on from that day, the MSL team got together to reminisce and share their hopes for the future of Curiosity. In an hour-long presentation live-streamed through the NASA website, the scientists and engineers discussed Curiosity’s successes, which include Martian soil samples and drilled rock powder samples. The rover, in less than one year, also completed its primary mission of discovering that Mars once had an environment in which primitive life (bacteria) could have survived. Curiosity has sent more than 70,000 images back from the surface of the red planet.
The JPL event was followed by another one celebrating Curiosity at NASA headquarters. This second special special included NASA administrator and International Space Station crew members who revealed how the rover was preparing for a coming manned mission to Mars. The event starts at around 1:24:00 in the video below, which also includes the JPL event, albeit in lower quality:
For those who don’t have the time or the patience to sit through three hours of space talk, NASA has also released a shorter retrospective on Curiosity. The four-minute video gives a nice overview of the challenge of landing the rover to Mars and the big discovery Curiosity has made during its first year: