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Christmas Gift Guide

Curiosity self-portrait

First day on Mars

Sunset on Mars

A 'spoon' on Mars

Extra holes in the wheels

Sand on the move

Not a thigh bone

Quite a dune

Curiosity's name appears

Drill, baby, drill

A wild fish appears

Dust devil in action

Curiosity selfie

Curiosity's wheel tracks

Egg Rock

Lebanon meteorite

Curiosity sees a hill

Laser-blasted hole

MRO sees Curiosity

Curiosity's travels

Depending on where you were on the globe, NASA's Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars on either Aug. 5 or 6 in 2012. It's spent the past five years crawling across the rugged terrain of the red planet, drilling holes, snapping images and conducting science operations. Here are some of its most fabulous pictures from its time far, far away.

NASA assembled this Curiosity self-portrait from a group of images taken with the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager in early 2013.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA's Curiosity rover commemorated its momentous landing on Mars by snapping this image shortly after its safe arrival at the Gale Crater in early August 2012. It shows Mount Sharp in the distance. 

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech

The sun sinks down below the Mars horizon in April 2015. This sequence is made from four images taken by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover covering a span of just under 7 minutes. NASA notes this is the first sunset Curiosity observed in color. 

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M Univ.

The Curiosity rover snapped a routine image in May 2016, but alien and UFO fans found something interesting about it: It shows a spoon-like formation half-buried in dust. It's not a real spoon, but it is fun to imagine the presence of soup on Mars. 

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Red circle by Amanda Kooser/CNET

The Mars terrain has taken a toll on Curiosity's wheels. This image from early 2016 gives us a good look at the damage. NASA has kept an eye on the wear and tear and implemented some new methods, such as reverse-driving, to minimize further damage.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA shared a GIF of the sand moving beneath the Curiosity rover in February 2017. The animation covers the span of a day and shows how active the wind is during the Martian summer. 

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

UFO fans got pretty excited about this Curiosity rover image from 2014 showing a bone-like rock formation on the surface of Mars. NASA, however, stepped in to remind everyone that it really is just a rock and was likely shaped by erosion from wind or water. 

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Namib Dune reaches up 13 feet (4 meters) above ground level on Mars in this Curiosity image from late 2015. The dark dune looks imposing. It is located in an area known as the Bagnold Dunes at Mount Sharp.  

"Sand grains blowing across the windward side of a dune become sheltered from the wind by the dune itself. The sand falls out of the air and builds up on the lee slope until it becomes steepened and flows in mini-avalanches down the face," says NASA.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity managed to sneak its name into this 2015 shot of a sandstone slab named Windjana. The name is written on a covering for the rover's robotic arm. 

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity has left its mark on Mars in some small ways. The rover drilled these two holes in February 2013 to examine soil particles from beneath the surface. This investigation led scientists to conclude that roughly 2 percent of the Martian surface soil is made up of water

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech

There aren't any fish on Mars, but at least there's a rock that looks like a fish. NASA posted this as a raw image from the Curiosity rover in March 2016 and alien fans got pretty excited about the fishy feature. It's still just a rock.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL/Circle added by Amanda Kooser/CNET

The wind on Mars can really whip sometimes. NASA's Curiosity rover watched as a dust devil zoomed by in the distance on Feb. 4, 2017, during the red planet's summer season. 

"On Mars as on Earth, dust devils are whirlwinds that result from sunshine warming the ground, prompting convective rising of air that has gained heat from the ground," says NASA.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU

NASA's Curiosity rover added to its self-portrait collection in early 2015 with this lovely selfie that really shows off the landscape around it. You can see Mount Sharp, some cliffs and the rim of the Gale Crater.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity snapped this image of its own wheel tracks on Mars in August 2014. The view shows an outcrop area called Hidden Valley, though you won't find any ranch dressing there. NASA says the pale rocks that look like paving stones are about the size of dinner plates.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Egg Rock is the name scientists gave to this strange little meteorite Curiosity found on Mars in late 2016. NASA estimates it's no larger than 1.6 inches (40 millimeters) wide, but the rover was able to get a good close-up view of the unusual object.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Well before Curiosity checked out the tiny meteorite called Egg Rock, it caught sight of this massive iron chunk measuring about 7 feet (2 meters) across in mid-2014. NASA scientists named this meteorite Lebanon.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS/MSSS

Mars has some very Earth-like features, such as this small mound named Ireson Hill. It looks like something you might find in a desert region on our planet. The image comes from the Curiosity rover's mast camera in early 2017. 

"The mosaic has been white-balanced so that the colors of the rock and sand materials resemble how they would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth," NASA notes.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity rover carved this hole in a sandstone rock called Windjana in May 2014. It first drilled the hole and then zapped the inside with a laser from its ChemCam instrument. This image gives us a good view into the hole. Look closely to see the line of dark spots created by the laser.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Look closely for the blue spot in the center of this image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. That's Curiosity. The MRO captured this picture in mid-2017, giving us a fascinating perspective on the rover's place on the planet. 

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA shared this map on July 11, 2017, to show the route covered by Curiosity since it landed on Mars in 2012. The map notes some highlights along the way, including areas known as Murray Buttes and Pahrump Hills. 

The star shows where the rover started from its landing spot and the continuation of the yellow line near the bottom maps out its future path for exploration as its mission continues.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech
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