NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover has completed its one year on Mars, but this one is unique as it’s a martian year i.e. 687 Earth days. Celebrating its first anniversary in a grand way, the rover has taken a selfie to mark the occasion.
The first year of Curiosity on the Red Planet has been significant as it has made some groundbreaking findings about life on Martian surface. The first major accomplishment was made in August 2012 when Curiosity succeeded in its main mission of determining if Mars ever harbored the environment to support microbial life.
The Mars mission met its main goal of determining whether Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life-forms at an area known as Yellowknife Bay. According to the scientists, it was a historic “yes” when Curiosity finally got evidence of life from two mudstone slabs that it sampled with its drill. These samples revealed that the site was once a lake-bed with mild water, the essential element for life.
Some of the other crucial findings during the first Martian year include:
- The rover assessed natural radiation levels both during the flight to Mars and on the martian surface. The findings provide guidance for designing the protection needed for human missions to Mars.
- It measured heavy-versus-light variants of elements in the martian atmosphere. This indicates that much of Mars’ early atmosphere disappeared by processes favoring loss of lighter atoms.
- It determined the age of a rock on Mars. Rover tried to find for how long a rock has been exposed to harmful radiation. This helped in providing prospects for learning when water flowed and for assessing degradation rates of organic compounds in rocks and soils.