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Curiosity brings the science: The rover's top 5 Mars discoveries

NASA's most advanced Mars rover has been on the red planet for a full year, and what it has revealed so far has not disappointed its creators.

This week Curiosity celebrates one year since landing on Mars. NASA / Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

It's been one year since NASA's third and most advanced Mars rover, Curiosity, landed on the big red rock.

Pretty much the most advanced and awesome dune buggy and mobile science lab in the solar system, Curiosity is already paying dividends in terms of the scientific discoveries it has returned in the past 12 Earth months, the space agency says.

In addition to sending back more than 70,000 images (you can see some of the best in our one-year retrospective gallery), Curiosity's sample-gathering tools, which include brushes, scoops, and even lasers, are enough to make Inspector Gadget feel permanently inadequate. Combine that with its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) on-board testing facility and you've got a machine built to do serious science.

NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory at CalTech put out the below infographic today to highlight Curiosity's findings in its first year on its permanent home. In short, the rover has given us reason to believe that ancient Mars could have supported familiar forms of life and been home to streams of flowing water.

On the downside, from the human perspective, the levels of radiation present on Mars could be dangerous for future human explorers, and the lack of any detectable methane is a strike against the possibility that any living organisms are presently there.

Get all the details from NASA's perspective in the infographic below. Also, check out our gallery of Curiosity's first year on Mars.