The NASA rover Curiosity survived its daredevil landing on Mars one year ago and has already yielded new scientific insights into the red planet.
The one-ton rover touched down at 1:31 a.m. EDT on August 6, 2012 on the Gale Crater.
Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting single cell microbial life -- and, in its first residence on Mars, the probe has already shown that the planet likely harboured such life.
But, astronauts aboard the International Space Station say sending a manned mission to Mars is still a distant dream.
"We have to remember when we start a trip to Mars we are not going to have those cargo vehicles to come and resupply us. We're not going to have cargo vehicles to send up at the last moment - a spare part that we didn't realize we are going to need and so the work we are doing here on the space station, just running the space station on a day-to-day basis is a good test bed for what we are going to need to go to Mars, but I think there's still some work to be done. I am confident we'll get there, but I think there's a lot of things need to think about knowing that it's a trip that can't be resupplied, once you are going, you are going. I think we'll get there eventually, I think right now there's still a lot of work to do," ISSS flight engineer Karen Nyberg said on Tuesday (August 6).
Recently NASA released a series of images taken from a camera mounted aboard Curiosity that show the first year of its exploration in a time-lapse video.
The images all come from Curiosity's front Hazard Avoidance Camera's fisheye lens, capturing every dig and drill carried out by the rover's robotic arm since landing on August 6 last year until last month.
Now scientists hope to learn whether life-friendly niches on Mars are common and whether any organic carbon has been preserved in the planet's ancient rocks.
To answer those questions, Curiosity is heading to Mount Sharp, a three-mile high (five-km) mound of layered sediment rising from the floor of Gale Crater.
Curiosity is expected to be joined next year by another NASA robotic probe, called MAVEN, which will remain in orbit to assess how and why the planet is losing its atmosphere.
Presented by Adam Justice