It took more than two years—and some mishaps along the way—but NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover finally reached its destination: Mount Sharp. This is what it all boils down to; the spot NASA feels Curiosity will collect the information necessary to hopefully learn about the Martian planet’s many secrets. Topping that list is whether or not Mars once sustained life, which evidence in the past has pointed to as a resounding yes.
“We potentially have millions to tens of millions of years of Martian history just waiting for us to explore,” said mission scientist Katie Stack. “We have finally arrived at the far frontier that we have sought so long.”
Curiosity has seen and done a lot since landing on Mars back in August 2012. The rover previously investigated an area nicknamed Yellowknife Bay, where it found more than enough evidence to suggest the planet was much different than we know it to be today. The barren, desolate Red Planet we see in pictures today may have once featured beautiful bodies of water, and an atmosphere capable of sustaining life.
Now that Curiosity has arrived at its destination, the real work is set to begin. In the months to come, the rover will be tasked with analyzing Mount Sharp’s layers of rock, which science believe hold the answers to the planet’s mysterious past. Was Mars once wet? Did life exist? Curiosity is set to check out some rocks on the mountain’s lower slopes, and hopefully extract the necessary data to answer those questions.