Celebrating NASA’s Curiosity’s First Birthday (Live!)

The drama for Curiosity began with so-called “the seven minutes of terror,” landing operation that involved rocket burns to slow down Curiosity from its 13,000 mph (21,000 km per hour) interplanetary cruising speed to a harrowing sky crane maneuver that allowed the rover to be gingerly lowered to the surface. (Read: “Top 5 First Year Discoveries.”)

In the year since, scientists have been using the one-ton rover to explore a region that was filled with the telltale signs of ancient water flowing in a stream. Curiosity has also been drilling into rocks, and finding the chemical ingredients needed to support microbial life.

Starting in 2014, Curiosity will be exploring the base of the giant central mountain at the crater landing site, Mount Sharp. It will be joined by MAVEN, NASA’ latest robotic orbiter, which is scheduled to launch on November 18, 2013 and will arrive at Mars next year. MAVEN will try and unlock the mystery as to why the planet is losing its atmosphere.

But today, the focus is on Curiosity and the scientific discoveries it has started to unravel over the past year. To celebrate its anniversary, team members from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are sharing highlights from the Curiosity mission in a livestream videocast from their headquarters. (Related: Q&A with Curiosity’s Chief Scientist, John Grotzinger.) We’ll be highlighting some of what they share through their livestream right here on our blog. – Andrew Fazekas and Melody Kramer

  • The JPL gang touts the Mars Rover’s appearance on The Colbert Report, where Colbert announced that America had “Mar’sed it!”
  • The team is reminiscing over some of the best pictures taken on Mars. You can see some of them right here.

Where were you when Curiosity landed last year? Let us know in the comments.

Human Journey

Melody Kramer writes and edits pieces for both National Geographic's magazine and website. She tweets @mkramer.