Curiosity
Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Big Sky' Drilling Site.jpg
Self-portrait of Curiosity located at the foothill of Mount Sharp (October 6, 2015)
Mission typeMars rover
OperatorNASA
COSPAR ID2011-070A
SATCAT no.37936
Websitemars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
Mission durationPrimary: 668 sols (687 days)
Current: 2527 sols (2596 days) since landing[1]
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer
Dry massRover only: 899 kg (1,982 lb)[2]
Start of mission
Launch dateNovember 26, 2011, 15:02:00 (2011-11-26UTC15:02Z) UTC[3][4][5]
RocketAtlas V 541 (AV-028)
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-41[6]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemHeliocentric (transfer)
Mars rover
Spacecraft componentRover
Landing dateAugust 6, 2012, 05:17:57 UTC SCET[7][8]
Landing siteAeolis Palus ("Bradbury Landing"[9]) in the crater Gale
(4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / 4.5895°S 137.4417°E / -4.5895; 137.4417 (Curiosity))[10][11]
Distance covered21.09 km (13.10 mi)[12]
as of 30 July 2019
Mars rovers (NASA)
 

Curiosity is a car-sized rover designed to explore the crater Gale on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL).[3] Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 15:02 UTC and landed on Aeolis Palus inside Gale on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 UTC.[7][8][13] The Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the rover's touchdown target after a 560 million km (350 million mi) journey.[9][14] The rover's goals include an investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for human exploration.[15][16]

In December 2012, Curiosity's two-year mission was extended indefinitely,[17] and on August 5, 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing.[18][19] The rover is still operational, and as of September 15, 2019, Curiosity has been on Mars for 2527 sols (2596 total days) since landing on August 6, 2012. (See current status.)

Curiosity's design serves as the basis for the planned Mars 2020 rover, which will carry different scientific instruments.

Goals and objectives

Animation of the Curiosity rover, showing its capabilities

As established by the Mars Exploration Program, the main scientific goals of the MSL mission are to help determine whether Mars could ever have supported life, as w