• Curiosity's mission was only supposed to last for two years
  • Photos show how much Curiosity has changed after seven years on Mars
  • The effect of Mars' severe dust storms can be seen on Curiosity

Side-by-side photos of NASA’s Curiosity clearly show the effect of spending seven years on Mars has on the robotic rover. The images perfectly show how the rover’s appearance has drastically transformed during the course of its mission.

Curiosity is the latest rover deployed by NASA on Mars. It serves as the successor of Sojourner, Opportunity and Spirit. It was officially launched by NASA on Nov. 26, 2011. After traveling for almost a year in space, the Curiosity reached Mars on Aug. 6, 2012.

The main objective of the rover is to assess the environmental conditions of Mars. Specifically, Curiosity is helping scientists determine if the Red Planet once had the ideal conditions that could support alien life.

Originally, Curiosity was only supposed to stay on Mars for two years. However, shortly after landing on the planet, NASA decided to extend its mission indefinitely. Since arriving on Mars, the rover has been roaming through its rough terrain for more than seven years.

Recently, photos of the Curiosity was uploaded on the image-sharing website Imgur. They feature a side-by-side comparison of the rover’s latest selfie and the photo it took when it first arrived in 2012. Its most recent selfie was taken on Oct. 11, 2019, after the rover explored a drill site on Mars.

The images posted on Imgur clearly show how much the rover has changed on Mars. Although its main structure is still the same, the rover has clearly lost its shine during the course of its mission. Most of its parts are covered by Mars’ red dust.

Of course, given Mars’ harsh conditions, seeing how much Curiosity has changed over the years isn’t that surprising. After all, the Red Planet is known for its severe dust storms. According to NASA, some of these dust storms can grow to a point that they can be spotted from Earth. These massive dust storms can also cover the entire planet.

It is not yet clear when Curiosity’s mission on Mars will end. But, just like its predecessors, the rover will most likely carry out its tasks until it can no longer move or function.

Curiosity rover
NASA's Curiosity rover took this selfie on Oct. 11, 2019, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover drilled twice in this location, which is nicknamed "Glen Etive." NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS