This video celebrates the fourth “birthday” of NASA’s Curiosity rover’s expedition on Mars—it landed in the Gale crater on Aug. 5, 2012. And as the footage shows, this is one precocious 4-year-old. The team that runs Curiosity at JPL is also getting on in years and experience, and they’re now veterans at getting the rover to do their bidding.
Getting around on Mars has never been easy, but In spite of time and wear, all of Curiosity’s gear is still working. It’s now climbing Mount Sharp after a bit of a detour, during which it studied the effects of past Martian groundwater.
Curiosity did take an unexplained nap on July 2, putting itself in safe standby mode for some reason: The team on Earth suspects a software glitch. After receiving a wake-up call on July 11, the adventure resumed.
This summer, the birthday rover has been the recipient of two presents. First, as befitting its maturity, newly uploaded software has given Curiosity’s ChemCam the autonomy to choose its own targets for examination using its onboard laser and telescopic cameras.
Even better, Curiosity’s already incredibly productive mission has been extended for another two years.