NASA HISTORY: Mars Science Laboratory Rover Curiosity Lands on Mars
By NASA // August 6, 2016
August 6, 2012
(NASA) – On August 6, 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity landed on Mars.
In the past four years, the rover has driven over eight miles on the Martian surface, performing experiments to determine whether Mars could have ever supported life.
As she traveled to Mars and has done research on the surface, Curiosity has also brought many people from Earth along for the ride.
Following the tradition of including the signatures of presidents on interplanetary craft, the rover sports a plaque with the signatures of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
The signatures of NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, in addition to other program leaders, are also on the plaque. The deck of the rover also holds a chip onto which over 1.2 million names were micro-engraved, names submitted by the public from 2009 to 2011. (Is your name on Mars?)
The base of the rover also carries the autograph of the 12-year-old girl who named Curiosity after winning an essay contest in 2009.
“We will never know everything there is to know,” she wrote, “but with our burning curiosity, we have learned so much.”
Curiosity will also leave another name on Mars. The tread of its wheels feature a design that spells out “JPL” in Morse code as she rolls across the surface.
So, the name of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been discreetly pressed into the Martin surface wherever Curiosity travels.