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Curiosity celebrates ten years on Mars

Curiosity's location in Gale Crater

Sometime today the rover Curiosity will celebrate its tenth anniversary on Mars. The oblique graphic of Gale Crater above, first released by the science team shortly before landing in 2012, has been further annotated with a red line to show the rover’s journey since then. As noted by Scott VanBommel, Planetary Scientist at Washington University, today on the science team’s blog:

As we the science and engineering teams have aged this last decade, so has Curiosity. The toll of ten years and nearly 28.5 km [17.7 miles] of Mars driving shows with every MAHLI wheel imaging activity, with less energy available for a plan, and with aging mechanisms. This is the life of a Mars rover. Spirit and Opportunity were no different, yet they persisted and paved the way scientifically and technologically for the rovers of today. Curiosity has made numerous scientific discoveries during these ten years, emphasized by the over 500 science team publications, with many more ahead as we continue our ascent and exploration of Gale crater and Mount Sharp.

I look forward to the next ten years.

Despite that aging, Curiosity’s general condition appears quite excellent, with its wheels the greatest concern but generally holding up. Based on the last ten years, the rover is likely to remain operational for at least ten more years, if not longer.

In the more immediate future, the rover is only days away from getting its first good look down into Gediz Valles, that canyon on the graphic above that it has been traveling towards since day one.

A good review of five of Curiosity’s biggest discoveries using its sample analysis instrument can be found here.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

3 comments

  • Skunk Bucket

    A truly remarkable machine, but it’s going to take us a long time to explore Mars at an average of 0.000202 mph. We need boots on the ground, or at least rovers guided by people in orbit to eliminate the light speed delay. I hope Elon can somehow pull off his Mars colonization plans.

  • Jeff Wright

    Lubricants don’t like low pressure or the cold.

  • Edward

    Jeff Wright wrote: “Lubricants don’t like low pressure or the cold.

    Although this is true in general, we have lubricants that will work in vacuum and in the cold. There are other methods of reducing friction and wear between moving parts, too. Our martian rovers demonstrate our ability to overcome the general case for lubricants.

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