NASA’s Curiosity rover has delivered some seriously stellar views of Mars to us back on Earth, but it’s easy to forget that the dusty, durable vehicle spends a lot of its time driving to various locations of scientific importance. Crawling over rocks and navigating never-before-seen peaks and valleys, the trusty bot just keeps on truckin’. This week, NASA delivered a photo that perfectly encapsulates Curiosity’s tiresome journey, but you might miss the rover at first glance.
The photo, taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, captures the Curiosity rover as it trudges over a seemingly endless sea of rocky, lifeless terrain. The image, which has been color-enhanced so that you actually have a chance of picking out the rover hidden among the weathered rocks and sand.
Can you see it? It’s a bit hard to make out, but that tiny blue dot in the very center is Curiosity, clawing along on the martian landscape on its way to a new destination. In the photo, the vehicle is headed uphill on Mount Sharp, towards Vera Rubin Ridge, where Curiosity investigated rock formations.
It’s kind of crazy to think that this very thing — scraping its wheels on dusty rocks, taking samples, and snapping photos — is what the rover has been doing every day for the past five years or so. And with its plutonium power supply rated to last a minimum of 14 years (albeit with a decrease in overall output), it could be doing it for the better part of another decade, if things work out well.