Published time: February 07, 2014 10:25
The Mars rover Curiosity has gone sentimental with a picture of its home planet, Earth, seen for the first time as a dot from the Red Planet’s surface.
After 529 (Martian) days spent in exploration of Mars’s soil and chemical composition, the robot took the opportune moment 80 minutes after sunset on January 31 to photograph the third rock from the sun, which at the time was located at a distance of about 160 million km (99 million miles) from Mars.
Zoomed-in pictures courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory show Earth’s moon as well.
Curiosity is the much-lauded effort by the American space agency’s Mars Science Laboratory Project to land a science vessel on the Martian surface for the purpose of studying its chemical composition, changing climate and if water – and life – has previously existed on the planet.
It has had a few mishaps along the way, including an 'alien' scare, but all systems are functioning normally, as the 1-ton robot plows on.
Curiosity landed on Mars in the August of 2012 and in that time has covered about 5km. Several milestones have been reached, with the ultimate one still to come. The ascent of Mount Sharp – a huge mountain located several kilometers to the southwest of the rover’s current location – is the next big goal.