On 6th August 2012, five years ago from today, NASA had launched Curiosity rover in the early morning on the Mars. After successfully landing on the surface of the Mars, Curiosity rover since then has been searching for any signs that could indicate that the Mars (also known as the Red Planet) did contain liquid water on its surface.
Curiosity rover was sent for finding the answer to the ever puzzling question of how the planet of Mars transformed itself from a wet, warm and habitable world to that of a dry, cold and lifeless one. The budget for this mission was approx $2.5 billion. The rover landed in the center of the 96 miles wide Gale Crater of Mars which soon revealed a part of the place that once had an ancient streambed. It also indicated that the Yellowknife Bay, the surrounding area, was the ancient lake which served as a host to microbial life.
The rover has managed to outlive the initial two-year lifespan and continues to remain in good shape apart from a wheel damage that happened on the long robotic arm which has made it stop functioning since the Dec of 2016. By driving the rover over the soft ground, the engineers managed to deal with the wheel issue.
Owing to the loss of the drill, Curiosity can no longer study the interior of the rocks for assessing the ancient Martian environment. After failing, the engineers have now opted to try and use the robotic arm for drilling without the feed motor.
Curiosity spent the first year of its reign by studying the Gale crater but has now begun to climb up on the 5.5. km mountain that is located in the centre of the crater, named Mount Sharp.
Curiosity managed to arrive on the Mount Sharp in September 2014 and has been drilling and studying it since three years. It has been studying the Murray Formation which is a geological region consisting of finely grained mudstone. The finely grained mudstones have been identified as the deposits of the lake bed by the scientists.
The assumption made was that the Gale Crater had remained habitable long after the drying up of the lake owing to the flow of sub-surface water. Curiosity is traversing the three layers of the rock on Mount Sharp consisting of hematite, clay and sulphates.
Amidst the developments taking place, Curiosity has completed its five year anniversary on Mars.