NASA has had quite a year. The Curiosity rover, aside from an unidentified discharge, has been an huge success. So much of a success in fact, that the next Mars rover, launching in 2020, will be based almost entirely on Curiosity's design.
Curiosity has been on Mars for 118 days now, but she's still just getting warmed up. Since October, the rover has sampled and analyzed its first five scoops of Martian soil, and NASA announced the results (which aren't these results) at a press conference this morning.
Right now, there's a bit of Martian soil sitting in the Curiosity rover's sample analysis tool that some Earthlings are getting pretty excited about. If the folks at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory find what they think they've found, it'll be "one for the history books," according to the team.
As a curious planet watches, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is continuing its mission on Mars. On Sunday, Curiosity collected its first sample of Martian soil. The sampling was not without some drama however, a bright object in the soil raised NASA's hackles, delaying the mission.
NASA's Curiosity rover is at a standstill, but thankfully it's not because its wheels are stuck. The rover is stopped for science: It's arrived at a site called Rocknest, an eight-by-16-foot area with ample loose material. Mission scientist have decided to stop here on the way to Glenelg for the mission's first scoop of soil for analysis.
Mars may be the first planet in the solar system to have a robot for mayor. (Something that was already predicted by Reddit.) NASA's Curiosity rover just checked-in on Foursquare on Mars and, unless Opportunity gets its act in gear, could continue to check-in unopposed and win the coveted spot of mayor.
Though earlier evidence provided clues that water once existed on Mars, NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence of a stream that once ran across the surface.
If a spaceship was leaving for Mars tomorrow, I'd want to be on it. There is no spaceship leaving for Mars — not tomorrow and not for a while — but, thanks to good ol' Curiosity, I can still watch videos like this and pretend I'm on my way down toward our ruddy planetary neighbor.
You know those pouty self-portraits that teenagers like to take with their cellphone and a bathroom mirror? Well, the Mars Curiosity rover must be going through its own awkward teen years, because it just sent us an interplanetary beauty shot of its own.
Like everything they build, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) designed Curiosity's Sky Crane landing system to work. But nothing is guaranteed in spaceflight. The team wouldn't know for sure whether the mission's entry, descent, and landing (or EDL) was successful until they got confirmation from the rover. The problem was that Curiosity's landing site in Gale Crater would be out of range at touchdown, so the team brought in a communications relay: the Mars Odyssey orbiter. It was a simple and obvious solution, except that Odyssey experienced its first ever malfunctions weeks before Curiosity's landing.