This week, NASA released a composite photo of what Curiosity saw in October, and if the rover could breathe, it might gasp.
In one image was its whole story: from the lower slopes of Mount Sharp, where it sat holding its camera, to the spot in the crater floor 11 miles distant, where it had touched down five years earlier to great celebration on Earth.
As the most complex NASA instrument ever put on Mars, with its drill, laser and chemistry set, Curiosity has sometimes disappointed those who would mine its data for research. A NASA panel even chastised the robot — or its operators — for doing more sightseeing than science.
Maybe for the same reason, Curiosity has brought Mars to life for the public. The soil data it's collected suggest Mars was once a beautiful planet of rivers and lakes. But the rover's many postcards of eclipses, dust devils and shimmering sands showed the world it's a beautiful place, even now.
The Washington Post
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