Curiosity - the bigger, nuclear-powered 'cousin' of Opportunity - has been on Mars for just shy of 2 Earth years. In that time, it has already completed its primary mission, having determined that Gale Crater once had an environment that would have been favourable to life as we know it. Along with this and other discoveries, the rover sends back images on a daily basis.
The photos that went into making this stitched-together panorama were shot a few months ago. Prominent in the middle of the photo is Mt. Sharp, the large central peak of Gale Crater, which Curiosity is making for and will eventually climb to investigate the different layers of rock up the side of the mountain. This will give scientists here on Earth clues to how Mars' environment changed over time, as it lost much of its atmosphere and it became more cold and barren.
Recently, Curiosity's team decided to alter the rover's route slightly, because she was taking damage to her wheels from the sharp, unweathered rocks that were along its path. Driving over a sand dune in what was called Dingo's Gap, the rover captured this impressive view.
Other pictures Curiosity has taken invoke an incredible shift of perspective. Seeing a sunset here on Earth can be very pretty, but how many times do you get to see one on another planet?!
Also, Curiosity didn't avoid all the big rocks by taking its altered route. She drove right past this one near the end of May.
This rock, named 'Lebanon' by the rover team, is a large iron meteorite, roughly 2 metres long. The inset images were taken by Curiosity's ChemCam, which is at the end of her arm. Another meteorite, which was named Littleton, was seen lying a short distance away. These meteorites may be part of the original impactor that formed Gale Crater, where the rover is located.
CHECK BACK EACH DAY!: We may have suffered a technical problem on Friday, but this is unofficial 'Mars Week' here on www.theweathernetwork.com. We'll be featuring stories each day about the Red Planet and our efforts to explore it, all leading up to celebrating the 2nd Earth anniversary of Curiosity's 'Seven Minutes of Terror' landing.