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Curiosity: Nine years since landing on Mars and the way forward

The way forward for Curiosity
Click for full image.

In today’s Curiosity update written by planetary geologist Abigail Fraeman, she noted this significant fact:

Project scientist Ashwin Vasavada pointed out a great fact at the beginning of planning today: At around 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Sol 3199 (the first sol in the plan we are creating today), Curiosity will begin its 10th Earth year on Mars. In the last nine years, the rover has traveled 26.3 km [16.3 miles], climbed over 460 m [1,509 feet] in elevation, and collected 32 drilled samples of rock.

Her update includes the first image taken by Curiosity upon landing, a view of Mount Sharp using the rover’s front hazard camera. In that picture, the mountain is far away, as the rover was sitting on the flat floor of Gale Crater.

The photo above, cropped and enhanced to post here, was taken yesterday by one of Curiosity’s navigation cameras, and looks out across the rocky mountainous terrain the rover is soon to travel. As Fraeman also notes,

Overview map
Click for interactive map.

After a morning of science, Curiosity will hit the road, driving ~14 m along our strategically planned route. This is an usually short drive for a day like today, and it’s because the terrain is so rocky that it’s hard to see too far beyond the rover’s current position. We don’t want to use too much autonomous driving in this rocky terrain and risk damaging the wheels.

The yellow lines in the overview map to the right shows the approximate area covered by the top photo. The red dotted line shows the rover’s planned route. The white dotted line shows its actual travels.

Curiosity is now moving among mountains several hundred feet high.

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 available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can 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. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


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


  • Jim Davis

    Your title is a bit confusing. Curiosity is about to begin its 10th year on Mars; it has not been on Mars 10 years.

  • Andrew_W

    “landed on Aeolis Palus inside Gale crater on Mars on 6 August 2012” [wiki].

    It’s 2022 already?

    “At around 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Sol 3199 (the first sol in the plan we are creating today),”

    There it is, they plan 2 years in advance.

  • Andrew_W

    Oops, one year in advance.

  • Jim Davis: You are correct. I have rephrased the title. Thank you.

  • Andi

    Bob, your title:

    “Curiosity: Ten years since landing on Mars and the way forward”

    might still need some adjustment. If it landed in 2012 then tomorrow will be nine years since landing.

  • Andi: I have already revised it again. Refresh your screen.

  • Andi

    Thanks, Bob. I had refreshed my screen but the old version still showed. I must have retrieved a cached version – restarting my browser fixed that. Sorry to bother you.

  • Andi: No need to apologize at all. Bother with these things whenever you want. You help me make this site better. :)

  • Star Bird

    So far Marvin and K-9 are still hiding out with those Instant Martians

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