This self-portrait of Curiosity was taken by its Navigation cameras in 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
This image is one of the first views from Curiosity after landing on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
This self-portrait of Curiosity shows the vehicle at a drilled sample site called "Okoruso," on the "Naukluft Plateau" of lower Mount Sharp. It combines multiple images taken with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on May 11, 2016, during the 1,338th Martian day. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
Both images from the Mast Camera on Curiosity shows the upper portion of a wind-blown deposit, but the right image has been white-balanced to show what it would look like under Earth's lighting conditions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
The rover examined this dark, golf-ball sized object with laser pulses and confirmed it to be a meteorite. The image was taken Oct. 30, 2016, from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
As seen in eight images taken by the rover's Navigation Camera (Navcam)over the span of four minutes on Sol 1758, wispy clouds float across the Martian sky. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/York University)
This image shows bedrock on Mars revealing tiny crystal-shaped bumps and mineral veins with both bright and dark material. It was imaged by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Jan. 4, 2018, during the 1,925th Martian day. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
These two images compare rocks seen by NASA's Opportunity rover and Curiosity rover at two different parts of Mars. The image on the right, taken by Curiosity, shows fine-grained sediments that are a record of an ancient habitable environment. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS)
This view of the landscape, with Gale Crater in the distance, was taken on the first day after landing. It represents Sol 1 on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems)

Keeping you current

Looking Back at Curiosity’s 2,000 Martian Days on the Red Planet

The rover has taken incredible images and made wild discoveries since landing in 2012

smithsonian.com

On Nov. 6, 2011, NASA’s Curiosity rover launched on a mission to Mars. Landing exactly nine months later, it began its venture to determine if the Red Planet could have ever supported microbial life.

Today marks Curiosity’s 2,000th Martian day of exploration, reports BBC News. In addition to the rover’s impossibly difficult landing, the work it’s done since it touched down has led to some stunning images of Mars and wild discoveries.

Curiosity has not yet found direct signs of life, but it’s unearthed many hints that microbes could be a possibility on the far-flung world. Carrying cameras and imaging equipment, Curiosity has collected and analyzed rock and soil samples, garnering clues about past and present conditions on Mars.

Just seven months after landing, Curiosity analyzed a rock sample that contained sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon—the key chemical ingredients needed to sustain life. Curiosity has also demonstrated the planet likely once had flowing water and large freshwater lakes, creating an 18,000-foot mountain. The craft also discovered a new type of rock (similar to basaltic rocks on Earth) and a strange golf-ball sized meteorite.

Just last month, it examined bedrock on the Martian surface to reveal tiny crystal shapes and conducted the first test of a new drilling technique, after a drill used for pulling samples from the planet’s surface stopped working.

The rover has conducted all of its investigations around Gale Crater, where it landed. According to NASA, the crater formed by a meteor about 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. It was chosen as the rover’s landing site because the crater had shown signs that water was present over its history.

As of Sol (Martian day) 1999, the rover had traveled 11.48 miles on Mars. You can always check in on Curiosity on the mission’s website, which tracks where the rover is at any given time. You can also follow the little rover that could on Twitter.

About Julissa Treviño

Julissa Treviño is a writer and journalist based in Texas. She has written for Columbia Journalism Review, BBC Future, The Dallas Morning News, Racked, CityLab and Pacific Standard.

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