Monday, August 5, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Curiosity!

It's been one year since the eyes of Earth were glued on Mars, waiting for Curiosity to touch down. At 1:31am, August 6th, EST, the rover landed. And a handful of minutes later, the signal traveling through space from Mars reached Earth, and we all learned she was safe.

It was the best birthday present ever (my birthday is the 6th!). And knowing that a year later she's still going strong, makes for yet another amazing birthday present.

For as long as I'll live, I will never forget the exhilarating feeling upon learning Curiosity had touched down. I was watching the livestream of JPL, as much of the world was, and actually burst into tears as we learned "we're safe on Mars!". I screamed, jumped up and down, rocked back and forth, and pretty much terrified my cat, but wow was that a moment to experience.

Curiosity has already taught us so much. Our perspective of Mars is changing rapidly, thanks to this rover and the team of scientists who analyze the data she sends our way. For a long time, water on Mars was a contested issue--we knew there had been some, but was it common? How much was there? Could it actually have supported life? Curiosity has already shown us that water existed once in great quantities. It flowed in rivers like we have on Earth. And most importantly, this water contained the right stuff for life. And all this we've learned in less than a year. Wow.

This is easily the most memorable moment in space exploration of my entire 28 years of life. It's brought me to tears on more than one occasion, and I just love that Curiosity is paving the way for even cooler Mars missions in the future.

Happy Anniversary, Curiosity. Roll on, girl! Roll on!

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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