NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars for quite some time now, vastly exceeding expectations and already nearly tripling its expected mission length. With the rover still in fine working order, NASA has sent it to a new area after it spent over a year at a location on Mars known as Vera Rubin Ridge.
Now, with the rover on its way to a new location, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory released a stunning 360-degree video that shows the rover’s previous location in stunning detail. Check it out!
If you’re not already familiar with YouTube’s 360-degree video feature, this is a great time to dive in. After clicking the play button you can manipulate the video by clicking (or tapping, if you’re on a smartphone) on the screen and dragging. This allows you to see the full 360 degree shot, and NASA has highlighted certain features that are worth your attention.
Going forward, Curiosity will continue to scale Mount Sharp in search of new and interesting discoveries. The rover’s once-troubled drilling mechanism is back in working order after JPL engineers invented a new drilling method that doesn’t require the defunct stabilizing arm which broke many months ago.
When Curiosity drills into rocks and takes samples to analyze it’s a bit like looking back in time to see what Mars was like millions and millions of years ago. Over the years, scientists have learned a great deal about the previously wet surface of the planet. The now-dry lakes and rivers that dominated its surface may have once hosted life — and organic molecules have been detected on the surface — but finding undeniable proof of life that may have disappeared billions of years ago is virtually impossible at best.