As the talk of human exploration of Mars slowly begins to heat up, it's worth remembering that there are already a few robots on the planet now. And we put them there!
The most mobile of them is Curiosity. Since the 'death' (running out of power) of Opportunity earlier this year, Curiosity is only functioning rover on Mars. A rover is a car-sized robot that can move across the surface, in this case at around 30 metres (100 feet) an hour. That's not super-fast, for sure. But with nothing but time on its hands, Curiosity can afford to take it slow. Especially when it's capable of delivering photos like the one at the top of this post!
On the way up!
Curiosity lives in the Gale Crater on Mars, and for better or worse, it can never leave it. Though the crater is about 154 km (96 mi) wide, its walls are too steep for the rover to climb out of it. Fortunately, the crater has plenty for it to explore.
Mount Sharp, or Aeolis Mons, the mountain found in the middle of the crater, is climbable by Curiosity. In fact, that is what it's doing right now. The photo at the top of the post was taken by the rover as it began to climb. Beautiful, right?
For more Mars as seen through the eyes of this amazing bot, check out the 360° video below!