In Pictures: NASA's rover Curiosity's first year on Mars

Images tell the story of the super rover's first year of work on Mars.

  • Curiosity mosaic It’s been one heck of a year for NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. After spending months journeying from Earth to Mars and surviving seven minutes of terror as it descended toward the Martian surface on Aug. 6, 2012, Curiosity, and the NASA team behind it, have been hard at work. The small SUV-sized rover, with its 10 scientific instruments, 17 cameras and a robotic arm that holds a myriad of tools, is on a mission to discover if Mars has, or has ever had, the ability to hold life, even if only in microscopic form. After a year of accomplishments and discoveries, NASA researchers hope Curiosity is only just getting started.

  • NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity About the size of a small SUV, NASA's Curiosity rover has six-wheel drive and the ability to turn in place a full 360 degrees, as well as the strength, balance and agility to climb steep hills. The rover, which has a plutonium heat source, has 10 scientific instruments, along with 17 cameras and a robotic arm.

  • Curiosity begins its journey An Atlas V rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Nov. 26, 2011, carrying NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, which contained a car-sized rover, Curiosity, designed to search for signs of life, even microbial.

  • Heading in for landing NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter catches sight of Curiosity and its parachute as it descended to the Martian surface in the early morning hours of Aug. 6 EDT.

  • Curiosity sees its own shadow This is one of the first images taken by Curiosity after landing on Mars. The photo was taken through a "fisheye" wide-angle lens on one of the rover's front Hazard-Avoidance cameras, which still had its dust cover on. The rover's shadow is visible in the foreground.

  • Curiosity’s selfie NASA's latest rover took a mosaic image of itself, using its navigation cameras, located on its mast, which had been put in an upright position. The camera snapped pictures 360-degrees around the rover, while pointing down at the rover deck, up and straight ahead.

  • Testing testing Curiosity gives a rear foot a bit of a wiggle. On Aug. 21, 2012, NASA engineers had the rover turn its right rear wheel in place at the landing site to test it out before Curiosity took its first short drive

  • First scoop This image from the rover’s right Mast Camera (Mastcam) shows Curiosity’s first scoopful of Martian sand and dust. The image was taken on Oct. 7, 2012. NASA has been analyzing Martian soil and dust to check its chemical makeup.

  • Making tracks NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity looks back at its own wheel tracks made during its first drive away from the Glenelg area and toward the mission's long-term destination: Mount Sharp.

  • Laser shots Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument created a pit in the Martian soil.

  • First rock contact Curiosity’s robotic arm touches a Martian rock for the first time, using its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer instrument to assess what chemical elements were present in the rock. The image was taken Sept. 22, 2012.

  • Five bites into Mars Curiosity used a mechanism on its robotic arm to dig up five scoopfuls of material from a patch of dusty sand called "Rocknest," producing the five bite-marks visible in this image from the rover's left Navigation Camera (Navcam). Each of the holes is about 2 inches wide. The fifth hole was dug on Nov. 9, 2012.

  • Evidence of water This image, taken Dec. 7, 2012, from Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) shows inclined layering known as cross-bedding in an outcrop dubbed "Shaler." The cross-bedding is evidence of an ancient stream flow.

  • Ready. Set. Drill! NASA's Curiosity rover shows its drill in action on Feb. 8, 2013. This was the first use of Curiosity’s drill for a rock sample. It also marked the first time that NASA has drilled into a rock on another planet. The target was a rock called "John Klein," in the Yellowknife Bay region of Gale Crater on Mars.

  • Martian view Curiosity captured this image with its left front Hazard-Avoidance Camera (Hazcam) on July 16, just after completing a drive that took the mission's total driving distance past the 1 kilometer (0.62 mile) mark. The image looks toward the southwest and shows part of the rover's front wheels.

  • Onward! Curiosity’s turret of tools that sit at the end of the rover’s robotic arm is in the foreground of an image that shows the lower slopes of Mount Sharp in the distance. The rover now is on its longest journey yet, heading to the base of the mountain that has been the focus of its mission. The picture was taken on July 9 by the right Navigation Camera (Navcam).

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