In its first year on the Red Planet, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory has used its 17 cameras to record amazing scenery and its scientific operations.
It's been a full (Earth) year since NASA's Mars Science Laboratory — a.k.a. Curiosity — landed safely on the Red Planet's surface. The sophisticated rover's objective is to spend at least a full Martian year (98 weeks) studying the windblown deposits on the floor of Gale crater and the 3-mile-high stack of layered sediment not far away that could hold important clues to the planet's early history.
Curiosity spent much of that year relatively close to its touchdown site, which was renamed "Bradbury Landing" to honor the late, great science-fiction author Ray Bradbury. By the end of 2012, five months into its mission, the rover had traveled less than a half mile (several hundred meters), moving carefully toward intriguing exposures of bedrock dubbed Glenelg and Yellowknife Bay. These early sorties provided the mission's scientists and engineers with a variety of surface materials to fully check out the craft's robotic arm, drill, and instruments.
Finally, in early July 2013, the rover began to roll in earnest toward the lower slopes of Aeolis Mons (better known as "Mount Sharp"). But that objective is some 5 miles (8 km) away and likely won't be reached until well into 2014. Mission managers expect to take time along the way to explore local geologic outcrops that look interesting.
As the views below show, the terrain inside Gale crater is a fascinating mix of the alien and the familiar.