Curiosity looks back on its 5-year journey with sweeping panorama

Image via NASA  JPL

Image via NASA JPL

Curiosity's impressive panorama stretches across more than 30 miles and shows the route that the rover has taken since 2012.

If the mountain doesn't quite look like 18,000 feet, that's because Vera Rubin Ridge (named for influential astronomer Vera Rubin) is already located about 1,000 feet (300 meters) on Mount Sharp, making the peak look less intimidating from this angle.

The image was taken back on October 25, 2017. Most recently, the rover took a selfie from Vera Rubin Ridge, an area of the planet where the rover has been exploring for months now.

Check out a NASA video showing Curiosity's view from the ridge below.

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Last week, the Curiosity team on Earth received new images from the rover through a record-setting relay by NASA's MAVEN orbiter that surpassed a gigabit of data during a single relay session from Mars for the first time in history.

NASA plans to launch another lander toward Mars in May 2018.

Here's a reminder that while you are out in the world buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning or catching up on The Crown, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is on the red planet doing work. The U.S. space agency says its next step regarding the Curiosity will be firing its drill to collect powdered rock samples back up. "The mountain's base provides access to layers formed over millions of years", according NASA's JPL.

Curiosity landed on the floor of the 96-mile-wide (154 km) Gale in August 2012 and has been working its way up through Mount Sharp's foothills since September 2014.

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Its next stop is the slope shown in the self-portrait, where it will probe what's believed to be clay-rich soil. These layers formed in the presence of water - likely due to a lake or lakes that sat at the bottom of the mountain, which sits inside Gale Crater.

The Curiosity is NASA's longest-running rover and has traveled more than 28 miles since 2004.

Parts of this story originally appeared in The Sun and have been republished with permission.

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