In photos: the amazing observations of NASA’s Curiosity robot after spending 2,000 days on Mars

In photos: the amazing observations of NASA’s Curiosity robot after spending 2,000 days on Mars


NASA’s Curiosity rover meets this week 2,000 Martian days (or suns) exploring the Gale crater of Mars.

Since it began to travel the red planet in August 2012, the “rover” or astromobile managed to discover traces of ancient rivers, deltas and lakes inside the crater.

He also established what the primitive atmosphere of Mars was like, which is the fourth planet with respect to its distance from the Sun and the second smallest of the Solar System after Mercury.

To celebrate this anniversary, BBC Mundo shares some of the most amazing observations made by Curiosity during these years.

A look at the Earth

Earth seen from Tuesday
Image caption That tiny point in space is our Earth. (Photo: NASA / JPL-CALTECH / MSSS)

In the history of the space age, some of the most powerful images have been those of the Earth taken from another place in space.

This image of the Curiosity Mastcam shows our planet as a weak light in the Martian night sky.

Every day, scientists from all over the world drive the vehicle to study the planet.

The beginning

First photo of Curiosity on Mars
Image caption The image arrived on Earth 15 minutes after the Curiosity landed on Mars. (Photo: NASA / JPL-CALTECH)

The first image captured by the robot arrived only 15 minutes after it landed on Mars on August 5, 2012.

It was taken by the camera that it has in the front part, which is used to detect and avoid obstacles during its passage.

In the distance you can see Aeolis Mons (also known as Mount Sharp). This is a mountain that forms the central peak of the Gale crater.

When the NASA scientists obtained this image, they knew that the mission would be successful.

Rocks of the river

Martian rocks
Image caption The shape of the rocks shows that they were eroded by an old river. (Photo: NASA / JPL-CALTECH / MSSS)

“Once we started handling 16 soles after touching the surface, we found these rock beds,” say Curiosity team members.

The rounded shape of the rocks indicates that they formed in an ancient surface river, which ran down the slopes of the mountains that surrounded the Gale crater 4 billion years ago.

Contrary to what was expected, the bark eroded by the rivers was not of primitive dark basalt, but of a more evolved composition and mineralogy.

The stones of this ancient Martian river have caused researchers to reconsider how the bark of igneous rocks and the mantle of Mars were formed.

Ancient lakes

Yellowknife Bay
Image caption Yellowknife Bay is made up of layers of grains of sand and mud. (Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS)

In the images taken at a distance, the scientists could not distinguish if some features of the surface corresponded to sediments of lakes or rivers of lava.

The photos from the terrain were crucial to understand these soil characteristics.

The images of Yellowknife Bay showed that the ground was formed by layers of fine grains of sand and mud, deposited by the rivers that flowed towards an ancient lake inside the crater.

Deep water

Image caption Lake Gale, now gone, had water for a long time. (Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS)

The section called Pahrump Hills discovered by Curiosity during the 753rd sun was key to understanding the crater environment in the past.

There, the robot observed thin layers of shale (a clastic sedimentary rock), which were mud particles that decanted into the deepest part of the lake.

Lake Wales is a deep body of water that existed on Mars for a long time. Now he is missing.

Sand deserts

Image caption The desert of dunes resembles those found on Earth. (Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS)

The Namib dunes, found during the 1192 day, are a small portion of the great Bagnold dune field.

This is the first active dune field explored on the surface of another planet.

Touring this complex terrain was not easy for the Curiosity.

Although the atmosphere of Mars has a fraction of the density of the Earth’s atmosphere, it can equally create these beautiful structures that resemble that of deserts on our planet.

Wind sculptures

Image caption The wind shaped this region of the red planet. (Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS)

This area, called Murray Buttes, was photographed by the Mastcam in the sun 1448.

The sandstone formations indicate that, after a period of humid weather, it became dry and the wind became the dominant agent that shaped the Gale crater environment.

Selfie of rigor

Rover Curiosity.
Image caption Selfies serve to see what state the vehicle is in. (Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS)

The Curiosity gained fame over the years that it competes with that of many Instagram users, by the amount of selfies that were taken during their journey.

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