Business is booming.

On Mars Curiosity Rover's 10th anniversary, scientists and NASA workers shared fond memories

As NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover turns 10, scientists and workers celebrate fond memories and lessons from the Red Planet’s mission

  • On August 5, 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover slowly made its way to the surface of the Red Planet and began its journey
  • “It plays a special role in NASA’s Mars exploration program,” said Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist at the Mars Science Laboratory
  • JPL systems engineer Sophia Mitchell spoke of her job as a ‘space Uber driver’, as she pilots the Curiosity rover from more than 100 million miles away
  • “We look forward to seeing you on Mars one day. I can tell you that Curiosity is going to help protect you,” Vasavada said to a child who asked a question

<!–

<!–

<!–<!–

<!–

<!–

<!–

Happy landiversary to one of NASA’s proudest achievements.

On August 5, 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover made its way to the surface of the Red Planet and embarked on a journey that took eight years longer than planned, collecting valuable data on whether life could be supported there — and whether those conditions existed in the past.

As part of the celebration, scientists and missionaries from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Goddard Space Flight Center, as well as the United States Geological Survey took part in a Twitter Space — essentially a chat room of sorts — where they shared fond memories and lessons of the historic mission to the fourth rock from the sun.

Scroll down for video

On August 5, 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover slowly made its way to the surface of the Red Planet.  The rover used the camera on the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to combine dozens of composite images in this self-portrait, where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called 'Windjana'

On August 5, 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover slowly made its way to the surface of the Red Planet. The rover used the camera on the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to combine dozens of composite images in this self-portrait, where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called ‘Windjana’

“It plays a special role in NASA’s Mars exploration program,” said Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist at the Mars Science Laboratory. “The ultimate goal is to find out if life ever originated on Mars, if it existed in the past or even today.”

To do this, Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011. After months of travel through space, the 2,000-pound car-sized rover landed in the 3.7-billion-year-old, 160-kilometer-long Gale crater and began its methodical exploration of the surface of Mars.

JPL systems engineer Sophia Mitchell spoke of her job as a “space Uber driver” while piloting the Curiosity rover from more than 100 million miles away.

“It’s definitely a dream job,” she said. “I’m an aerospace engineer, but I really see myself as an explorer and so the ultimate exploration mission in my mind is to drive a huge scientific robot around on another planet.”

1659730058 357 On Mars Curiosity Rover039s 10th anniversary scientists and NASA workers

1659730058 357 On Mars Curiosity Rover039s 10th anniversary scientists and NASA workers

“It plays a special role in NASA’s Mars exploration program,” said Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist at the Mars Science Laboratory. “The ultimate goal is to find out if life ever originated on Mars, if it existed in the past or even today.” The red planet is pictured above in a NASA handout

NASA scientists say the now-dusty Mars was once covered in bodies of water — a clue that this barren planet once hosted some form of life, or at least had the capacity to do so.  The Mars Curiosity Rover created this panorama (above) of the Red Planet

NASA scientists say the now-dusty Mars was once covered in bodies of water — a clue that this barren planet once hosted some form of life, or at least had the capacity to do so.  The Mars Curiosity Rover created this panorama (above) of the Red Planet

NASA scientists say the now-dusty Mars was once covered in bodies of water — a clue that this barren planet once hosted some form of life, or at least had the capacity to do so. The Mars Curiosity Rover created this panorama (above) of the Red Planet

What the rover learned has helped scientists paint a picture of what the planet probably looked like billions of years ago. The answer is that now-dusty Mars was once covered in bodies of water — a clue that this barren planet once hosted some form of life, or at least had the capacity to do so.

That possibility was bolstered by Curiosity’s discovery of organic molecules found while drilling in shallow areas of the Earth’s surface. The team spoke enthusiastically about future missions, such as the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover, which will be able to dig deeper than Curiosity’s tools allow.

While the past decade has been full of discoveries, it has also been full of challenges. What should have been a two-year mission has been extended indefinitely and Curiosity is beginning to show its age, with wear on the wheels and a drill that no longer works as it once did.

As Mitchell noted, if something breaks on Mars, “We can’t send someone there to fix it. We just have to figure out how to use what we have to do what we want.’

Although robots have visited our nearest heavenly neighbor, it’s a journey that no human has yet been able to make.

The team enthusiastically endorsed the possibility that humanity could one day travel to Mars, a journey that will be supported by vital radiation data collected by Curiosity — and likely with the help of Elon Musk’s spacecraft, after it successfully completes an orbital launch test. and takes humans to the moon first.

“All I can say is I hope you go to Mars,” Vasavada said to a curious child who was chosen to ask a question. “We look forward to seeing you on Mars one day and I can tell you Curiosity is going to help protect you.”

1659730058 464 On Mars Curiosity Rover039s 10th anniversary scientists and NASA workers

1659730058 464 On Mars Curiosity Rover039s 10th anniversary scientists and NASA workers

As Mitchell noted, if something breaks on Mars, “We can’t send someone there to fix it. We just have to figure out how to use what we have to do what we want.’ This is an artistic concept of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft approaching Mars

.