The Curiosity Rover has been exploring the surface of Mars for four years and is still going strong. The unit is in such good shape that it’s going to keep exploring for another two years.
Curiosity got off to a good start, as Space.com’s Mike Wall writes:
The rover found that the area near its landing site harbored a lake-and-stream system long ago, showing that at least some parts of the Red Planet could have supported microbial life in the ancient past.
The main goal of the $2.5 billion Curiosity mission is to answer that very question.
“It was just an early home run that kind of took the pressure off, and allowed us to expand on that [discovery] for the next few years,” Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, told Space.com.”
Back in 2012, it wasn’t clear if Curiosity Rover would survive the “7 minutes of terror” involved in hitting Mars’s atmosphere and landing on the surface of the planet.