NASA's Mars rover Curiosity marks 2,000th day on red planet

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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity marks 2,000th day on red planet
This image provided by NASA, assembled from a series of January 2018 photos made by the Mars Curiosity rover, shows an uphill view of Mount Sharp, which Curiosity has been climbing. Spanning the center of the image is an area with clay-bearing rocks that scientists are eager to explore; it could shed additional light on the role of water in creating Mount Sharp. On Thursday, March 2, 2018, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity marked 2,000 days on the red planet by Martian standards. A Martian sol, or solar day, is equivalent to 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds. So 2,000 days on Mars equal 2,055 days here on Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has now marked 2,000 days on the red planet.

That’s 2,000 days by Martian standards. A Martian sol, or solar day, is equivalent to 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds. So 2,000 days on Mars equal 2,055 days here on Earth.

Either way, it’s a big milestone this week for scientists eager for Curiosity to begin drilling again, this time into potentially clay-rich rocks on the slopes of Mount Sharp.

The six-wheeled rover has been exploring Mars since 2012. Altogether, it’s traveled 11.6 miles (18.7 kilometers).

Flight controllers are testing a new drilling method. Curiosity’s drill stopped working properly in 2016, and so engineers devised another way to bore into Martian rocks and get the pulverized rock samples into the rover’s lab instruments.