Photo: NASA, HO
Six years after NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars with a goal of finding signs of life, the space agency announced that it has made a new discovery.
But we won’t know what it is until Thursday afternoon.
Curiosity, the most technologically advanced rover ever built, launched to Mars in November 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Almost a year later in August 2012, it landed in Mars’ Gale Crater.
The rover is about the size of Mini Cooper and has spent years trying to determine if the Red Planet was ever habitable. The mission has cost about $2.5 billion.
During its lifetime, Curiosity has determined that the crater could have supported microbial life in the past, for example, as well as evidence of an ancient stream bed. More information about Curiosity’s discoveries can be found here.
The rover currently is climbing Mount Sharp, a 3.4-mile-high peak in the crater, in the hopes of determining how the Red Planet transformed from a wet world to its current arid form.
In May, Curiosity started drilling for rock samples for the first time since October 2016 after a mechanical problem took the drill offline, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology.
NASA’s virtual news conference will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday. It can be viewed on NASA’s website.
Alex Stuckey covers NASA and the environment for the Houston Chronicle. You can reach her at email@example.com or Twitter.com/alexdstuckey.