The Curiosity rover, NASA’s pickup truck sized robot on the Red Planet, has been poking around our closest neighbor’s surface since it’s arrival in August of 2012. The robot was tasked with a specific set of mission objectives: assess the climate and geology of the Gale Crater that it landed in. Its purpose is perhaps the most noble of all outbound space craft: the search for signs of life elsewhere in the universe.
Of course, that’s no easy undertaking, and it was with the scope of that challenge in mind that NASA built Curiosity to be able to withstand the arduous Martian terrain and climate for a whopping 687 days, or just shy of two full years. That goal may have seemed lofty to some at the time, but here we are, 2,332 days (and counting) since Curiosity touched down, and she’s still going strong.
While Curiosity is equipped with a wide array of sensors ranging from infrared lasers used to vaporize small portions of rock to assess their makeup to self-contained laboratories that can analyze the Martian soil for signs of life. Of course, every one of these tools bears an interesting purpose and story, but few of the doodads Curiosity took with it can produce the same emotional effect as the its suite of cameras.
For now anyway, looking at the pictures sent back from Mars rovers and landers remains the closest mankind can get to setting foot on the Red Planet, and as awesome as some of these images truly are, one group has found an even cooler way to enjoy them: blending 41 separate image pairs taken during a portion of the rover’s slow trek across the surface of Mars. The result is a 3D rendered video that brings the Martian surface to life in a way humanity hasn’t gotten to experience first-hand quite yet.
The footage follows Curiosity along the Bridger Basin, with an eye toward the Bob Marshall Ridge. The footage is sped up a bit as compared to real life, however. While the Curiosity rover may be about the size of a small pickup truck, it tends to move at more of a Power Wheels pace — a brisk .08699 miles per hour, to be exact. In fact, since Curiosity touched down back in 2012, it has only covered a bit more than 12 miles so far.
For a bit more fun, he’s a compilation of Curiosity’s first 12 months of image on Mars: