NASA's Curiosity rover has already achieved its main science goal: revealing that ancient Mars could once have supported life. Here are some of the highlights from a year spent toiling on the Red Planet.
July 28, 2013: NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on its mast to record this westward look on the 347th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars. The prominent rock in the right foreground, informally named "East Bull Rock," is about 20 inches high.
Vista With 'Twin Cairns'
July 24, 2013: Here's what Curiosity is looking at right now: This scene combines seven images from the telephoto-lens camera on the right side of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument, taken on the 343rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's time on Mars.
July 16, 2013: Curiosity captured this image just after completing a drive that took the mission's total driving distance past the 1 kilometer mark. In early July 2013, the rover began a multi-month trek from the Glenelg area, where it worked for more than six months, toward a destination area of the lower layers of Mount Sharp, still about 5 miles away.
June 12, 2013: Textural characteristics and shapes of an outcrop called "Point Lake," about 20 inches high and pockmarked with holes. This view is presented in raw color, which shows the scene's colors under Mars lighting conditions as they would look in a typical smartphone camera photo.
The Billion-Pixel View
June 19, 2013: This full-circle view combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, generating an astounding panorama with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version. Viewers can explore this image with pan and zoom controls here.
Drilling a Hole at 'Cumberland'
May 21, 2013: The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was used to check the composition of gray tailings from the hole in a rock called "Cumberland" that the rover had just drilled into. A row of small pits created by firing the laser are near the drill hole, which has a diameter of about 0.6 inch.
Drilling Into Rock
May 19, 2013: NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drills into a rock target named "Cumberland." Total drilling time: 25 minutes.
Point Lake, Gale Crater
June 5, 2013: One priority target for a closer look by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity before the rover departs the "Glenelg" area east of its landing site is the pitted outcrop called "Point Lake," in the upper half of this image; voids or cavities set Point Lake apart from other outcrops in the vicinity. It has been white-balanced to show what the rock would look like if it were on Earth.
Self-Portrait at 'John Klein'
May 21, 2013: This self-portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 177th Martian day on Mars (Feb. 3, 2013) plus three exposures taken during Sol 270 (May 10, 2013) to update the appearance of part of the ground beside the rover.
Mount Sharp Panorama
March 15, 2013: Mars' Mount Sharp in a white-balanced color adjustment that makes the sky look overly blue but shows the terrain as if under Earth-like lighting. White-balancing helps scientists recognize rock materials based on their experience looking at rocks on Earth. The Martian sky would look more of a butterscotch color to the human eye.
First Sample in the Scoop
Feb. 20, 2013: The first sample of powdered rock from "John Klein" extracted by the rover's drill. In subsequent steps, the sample was sieved, and portions of it delivered to a sample analysis tool. The image has been white-balanced to show what the sample would look like if it were on Earth. The gray-green powder is from the rock; red residue clinging to the scoop walls is from a sample collected earlier from a drift of windblown dust and sand called "Rocknest."
Shiny-Looking Martian Rock
Feb. 11, 2013: A shiny-looking Martian rock is visible in this image taken by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity during the mission's 173rd Martian day.
Evidence of Stream Flow
Jan. 15, 2013: Curiosity shows inclined layering known as cross-bedding in an outcrop called "Shaler" on a scale of a few tenths of meters -- evidence of sediment transported at one time in a stream. The superimposed scale bar is 50 centimeters. The image has been white-balanced to show what the rock would look like if it were on Earth.
Dec. 11, 2012: On the 84th and 85th Martian days of the mission on Mars -- Halloween back on Earth -- Curiosity captured dozens of high-resolution images to be combined into self-portrait images of the rover. The mosaic shows the rover at "Rocknest," the spot in Gale Crater where the mission's first scoop sampling took place. Four scoop scars can be seen in front of the rover.
Scoop Marks in the Sand
Dec. 03, 2012: The third (left) and fourth (right) trenches made by Curiosity to study the properties of the "Rocknest" wind drift sand. The upper surface of the drift is covered by coarse sand grains approximately 0.02 to 0.06 inches in size. These coarse grains are mantled with fine dust, giving the drift surface a light brownish red color. Beneath the crust surface, as revealed in the scoop troughs and the piles of sediment on the right side of each, is finer sand, which is darker brown as compared with the dust on the surface.
The View From 'Rocknest'
Nov. 26, 2012: A mosaic of images taken by the Mast Camera on the NASA Mars rover Curiosity while the rover was working at a site called "Rocknest" in October and November 2012. The center of the scene, looking eastward from Rocknest, includes the Point Lake area. The image has been white-balanced to show what the rocks and soils in it would look like if they were on Earth.
A Rock Called 'Rocknest 3'
Oct. 5, 2012: Rocknest 3 is approximately 15 inches long and 4 inches tall, next to the "Rocknest" patch of windblown dust and sand where Curiosity scooped and analyzed soil samples. The image has been white-balanced to show what the rock would look like if it were on Earth.
First Scoop by Curiosity
Oct. 10, 2012: This pairing illustrates the first time that NASA's Mars rover Curiosity collected a scoop of soil on Mars. It combines two raw images taken on the mission's 61st Martian day: The left shows the ground at the location "Rocknest" after the scoop of sand and dust had been removed. The image on the right shows the material inside the rover's scoop.
Sept. 24, 2013: The robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity with the first rock touched by an instrument on the arm -- named "Jake Matijevic" in commemoration of influential Mars-rover engineer Jacob Matijevic (1947-2012).
On the Road to Glenelg
Sept. 19, 2012: The view looking toward the "Glenelg" area, where three different terrain types come together and Curiosity will ultimately spend a few months studying the sediment.
Portrait of the Robot as a Young Robot
Sept. 12, 2012: The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) on NASA's Curiosity rover, with the Martian landscape in the background, a picture taken on the 32nd Martian day, or sol, of operations on the surface. This image let researchers know that the APXS instrument had not become caked with dust during Curiosity's dusty landing.
Wheels and a Destination
Sept. 9, 2012: In the distance is the lower slope of Mount Sharp in this picture from a camera located in the turret of tools at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm.
A First Self Portrait
Sept. 7, 2012: The Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) located on its arm to obtain this self-portrait. The image was acquired while MAHLI's clear dust cover was closed, in order to inspect the dust cover to ensure that it, its hinge, and the volume it sweeps when it opens are clear of debris.
Curiosity Tracks Its Tracks
Aug. 28, 2012: A close-up view of the tracks left by Curiosity, which are in fact Morse code for JPL, in honor of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where the rover was built and the mission is managed. The Morse code, imprinted on all six wheels, is: .--- (J), .--. (P), and .-.. (L).
Getting to Know Mount Sharp
Aug. 27, 2012: Curiosity highlights the interesting geology of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside Gale Crater, where the rover landed.
First Color Image of the Martian Landscape
Aug. 6, 2012: This is the first view of the landscape to the north of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, taken on the afternoon of the first day after landing. (The team calls this day Sol 1, which is the first Martian day of operations; Sol 1 began on Aug. 6, 2012.)
NASA's Curiosity rover has spent a full year on Mars, driving more than a mile and firing more than 75,000 laser blasts -- and returning more than 190 gigabits of data and 36,700 images.