NASA’s Curiosity rover which found evidence that ancient Mars had the right conditions to support microbial life has marked five years of exploring the red planet.
Curiosity, which landed near Mount Sharp five years ago, is examining clues on that mountain about long—ago lakes on Mars.
On August 5, 2012, the mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, exalted at radio confirmation and first images from Curiosity after the rover’s touchdown using a new “sky crane” landing method.
Transmissions at the speed of light took nearly 14 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, which that day were about 248 million kilometres apart, NASA said. Since then Curiosity’s journey has been similar to that of Mark Watney’s in the movie ‘The Martian.’ Within weeks of its arrival inside Mars’ Gale Crater, Curiosity hit scientific pay dirt and found an ancient lake.
Since then, Curiosity has found enough evidence to support the theory that ancient Mars had the right conditions to support microbial life. There was proof that the red planet once had fresh water, other key chemical ingredients and an energy source.
Having studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock with signs of lakes and later groundwater, Curiosity’s international science team concluded that habitable conditions lasted for at least millions of years.