Happy anniversary! NASA's Curiosity rover celebrated one full year on Mars yesterday. Since landing safely on the morning of Aug. 6, 2012, the rover has crawled the not-exactly-continental distance of 1.6 kilometers (almost exactly one mile) across the planet's desolate surface.
As part of the $2.5 billion mission, Curiosity searched for the presence of life, explored a portion of the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater, and became the first rover to drill on another planet. In its second year, Curiosity is headed toward Mount Sharp, a three-mile-high formation whose layers scientists believe hold secrets of Mars' geological history.
In honor of Curiosity's year on the Red Planet — and the more than 71,000 images it has recorded and sent back to NASA — we've compiled some of space robot's best photos, from the stunning landscapes to those charming selfies.
Curiosity snapped this picture of itself in Mars' Gale Crater, where testing revealed life could have existed. (AP Photo/NASA)
A tire track from the two-ton rover is imprinted in the planet's sandy surface. (REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout)
This landscape of the Gale Crater near the Martian equator is the result of 900 images taken by Curiosity and stitched together by humans. (AP Photo/NASA)
Curiosity became the first rover to ever drill on another planet. The unearthed materials revealed the presence of life-sustaining chemicals nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen, in addition to a type of clay that forms in the presence of water. (REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout)
The bottom of Mount Sharp can be seen in the distance as Curiosity makes it way across Mars' rocky surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Taken by its own navigation cameras, this self-portrait shows Curiosity in a 360-degree aerial view. Most of the tiles are thumbnails that have been stitched together with the center being the focal point, giving the image a distinctly Picasso-like aesthetic. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech via Getty Images)