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Curiosity celebrates 4 years on Mars: 10 of the most stunning images from its journey

After plowing across Mars' surface for four years, NASA's Curiosity Rover has captured thousands of striking images during its journey.

Scientists and space enthusiasts alike have garnered a new understanding of the planet through the detailed images the craft has collected.

Launched in 2012, Curiosity has called Mars home for more than 1,400 days. The mission was originally supposed to last two years but was extended indefinitely just five months after its launch.

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As part of the Mars Exploration Program, the Curiosity is collecting information about Mars' geography, climate and ability to support life.

Here are 10 of Curiosity's most fascinating images from its journey on Mars:

1. Curiosity confirms ancient lakes on Mars

In October of 2015, the rover confirmed that Mars was capable of storing water billions of years ago. Water deposited sediment that later helped to form Mount Sharp, the peak in the middle of the crater in which Curiosity landed.

"It's clear that the Mars of billions of years ago more closely resembled Earth than it does today," Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said.

2. A shiny rock offers insights to wind patterns on Mars

When Curiosity captured this image of a shiny rock, scientists were able to gather more clues into what wind patterns are like on Mars.

The shiny appearance likely means the rock has a fine grain and is relatively hard but was smoothed out by winds over time.

3. The rover looks back towards its home

Earth is barely visible in this picture the rover took in January of 2014. Curiosity captured this view of its home planet from 99 million miles (160 million km) away.

4. A bright spot gleams on the horizon

Scientists have a couple theories for these bright spots they capture in images sent back from Curiosity.

"These can be caused by cosmic-ray hits or sunlight glinting from rock surfaces, as the most likely explanations," Justin Maki, leader of the NASA team that built and operates the Navigation Camera, said.

"In the thousands of images we've received from Curiosity, we see ones with bright spots nearly every week."

5. The rover takes a selfie before work begins

Selfies have made it much easier for NASA scientists to keep an eye on the rover's conditions and maintenance needs. With an arm that extends far from its body, Curiosity can take pictures of itself without any obstruction.

To get the detailed picture, multiple images are stitched together.

6. Is there a giant spoon on Mars?

While it may look like someone left a spoon sitting on Mars, scientists said this formation is a result of wind patterns. Curiosity found this ventrifact, or a stone shaped by winds over time, in September of 2015.

7. Looking back at the "Hidden Valley"

The rover captured this view of what researchers call the "Hidden Valley" on Mars in 2014. Curiosity was leaving the area when it took this image.

8. Curiosity studies the first sand dunes visited on a planet other than Earth

Curiosity began studying sand dunes up to two stories tall in December of 2015. The rover collected a scoop of material from the dunes to be studied with instruments on the craft.

9. Curiosity discovers petrified sand dunes on Mars

Curiosity found itself embedded in what scientists believe are deposits of sand dunes formed by wind.

NASA researchers said they closely resemble features that are found in the southwestern United States.

10. Curiosity drills for samples

Curiosity Rover hasn't just been taking selfies all over Mars for the last four years -- the craft has been hard at work collection various samples for further study.

An image from a 2013 drill shows a close-up view of what the rover sees before digging into the planet's surface.