In a bid to make the biggest mission yet, the United States and Russia are building a spacecraft for the search for extraterrestrial life.
The $2.6 billion Curiosity rover is built to carry out the first ever robotic mission to explore Mars and return samples for further study.
Curiosity was launched in December 2011 to explore Gale Crater, an area on Mars that is believed to have once been home to microbial life.
Mars was believed to be habitable at some point, but has since become one of the hottest spots in the solar system, where temperatures can rise to more than 1,500 degrees Celsius (3,600 degrees Fahrenheit).
The rover has now been exploring the Gale Craters since July and has found evidence of liquid water in the area.
The rover is expected to arrive at Mars in 2020, but its final destination remains unclear.
“This is the first mission to go to Mars, but it’s a very exciting time for Mars exploration,” NASA’s planetary science director at the time, John Grunsfeld, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
“We’re excited to see where we’ll end up.”
The Curiosity rover was designed to explore a range of Mars environments, including Gale Crates, Gale Craton, and the ancient crater of Gusev Crater.
Curiosity landed on Mars on December 6, 2012, carrying the rover, a robotic arm, and a lander.
The lander has been in orbit around Mars since December 2012.
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have been conducting the mission to determine if there is life on Mars.
The mission was approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has said that the mission is not yet ready for prime time.
NASA is expected announce the rover’s mission to the International Astronomical Union in May 2020.
More about Curiosity: This article was originally published by The Conversation.