Cue up an Ennio Morricone sound track. NASA released a fresh view of Mars, and it looks like Clint Eastwood is about to stroll across the scene.
NASA’s Curiosity rover arrived on the red planet on Aug. 5, 2012 (or Aug. 6 depending on your location). To celebrate, the space agency released eight eye-catching images of Mars this week that tie into the rover’s past and present experiences on the planet.
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One of the newly released looks shows what NASA describes as a “Spaghetti Western landscape.” Curiosity snapped the 130 images used for the panorama in December 2019. It shows a spot called Western Butte in the foreground.
Another newly released image shows a striking portrait of Mount Sharp, the massive central mountain inside the Gale Crater, in October 2019.
NASA shared a total of eight Martian “postcards” to mark each year for Curiosity. One image traces to back to 2014 and even shows a far-off view of the rover’s current location.
“I can’t help but also think about the corresponding distance we’ve traveled in our understanding of Mars’ habitable past since the time we took this picture,” said Curiosity deputy project scientist Abigail Fraeman.
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It’s been an epic eight years for the rover. Curiosity has traveled more than 14 miles (23 kilometers) over rough and rocky terrain. It just drilled its 27th hole on the red planet.
The rover may be leaving some physical marks on Mars, but it’s also building out its impressive science legacy. The vehicle is healthy and looking forward to its continuing mission of peering into Mars’ past, looking for evidence that it may have once been habitable for life.
Curiosity will soon be welcoming a friend to Mars. NASA’s Perseverance rover is scheduled to arrive in February 2021 after a successful July launch. China is also sending along a rover with its Tianwen-1 mission.
The rovers will all be exploring different regions of Mars, so there won’t be any firsthand hellos exchanged. When it comes to Mars, the more the merrier.