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Updated January 15th, 2024 at 19:39 IST

What does a full day on Mars look like? NASA's Curiosity rover is here to tell

NASA's Curiosity rover recently beamed a short time-lapse clip of a full day on Mars showcasing what life on the red planet looks like.

Harsh Vardhan
mars
Martian landscape as seen from Curiosity's hazard cameras. | Image:X/@MarsCuriosity
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If you find yourself often daydreaming about living on Mars, the Curiosity rover is here to tell you what it looks like being on the neighbouring planet. NASA's robotic explorer recently beamed a short time-lapse clip of a full day on Mars giving us a hint of the stunning yet barren Martian landscape.

In late December 2023, Curiosity's hazard cameras were used to capture a video from sunrise to sunset on the red planet.

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Hey look – I’m a sundial!

Ok, not exactly, but I did get a sol to enjoy my surroundings. During solar conjunction, I used my hazard cameras to study the Martian weather and dust. 

As this Earth year comes to an end, I hope you’ll take the time to soak in what’s around you. pic.twitter.com/eCQAcVtT1L

— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) December 28, 2023

"During solar conjunction, I used my hazard cameras to study the Martian weather and dust. As this Earth year comes to an end, I hope you’ll take the time to soak in what’s around you," the Curiosity mission team captioned the video on X.

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The Curiosity Rover. Image: NASA

Curiosity landed on Mars on August 5, 2012 at the foot of a layered mountain inside the Gale Crater which formed after a meteor impact about 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. This site was chosen for Curiosity's landing because scientists believe it once harboured water - a key ingredient for life.

As of mid-January 2024, the rover has driven over 31 km in the Gale Crater while searching for ancient microbial life. 

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Apart from Curiosity, the Perseverance rover is also invested in finding signs of life which might have existed on Mars once. Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, at the Jezero Crater where an ancient river flowed into. 

The Perseverance rover. Image: NASA

Perseverance has also recovered several samples of the Martian rocks for a return to Earth in the early 2030s for in-house inspection under the NASA-ESA's Mars Sample Return campaign. This ambitious mission, however, seems unlikely due to inflating budget which is causing NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to lay off its contractors. 

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According to a report released in June 2023, NASA now estimates that the sample return mission is likely to cost $10 billion, which is double the amount of approximately $4.5 billion previously estimated. "It is better not to do it than to torch the whole science community," former NASA official Thomas Zurbuchen said per Ars Technica since the sample mission is affecting other NASA projects. 
 

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Published January 15th, 2024 at 19:36 IST

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