NASA shares an image of Curiosity as it cruises up Mont Mercou

The Curiosity rover has been conducting its science operations and exploring the surface of the Red Planet for a long time. NASA recently shared an aerial image taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that shows curiosity as it's climbing a rocky outcrop called Mont Mercou. Curiosity is exploring the rocky outcrop, which got its nickname from a French mountain, because the area beyond it is rich in sulfates.

The MRO snapped the photograph at an altitude of 167.5 miles above the rover. The orbiter captured the image on April 18 using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment tool that can image features as small as a kitchen table. Curiosity is significantly larger than that at approximately the size of an automobile.

Curiosity has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014, which is the central peak inside Gale Crater. The mission for the rover is to search the Red Planet for signs of microbial life in Mars's distant past. Curiosity began scaling Mont Mercou in early March. NASA has said that in the first two years Curiosity has been on Mars it has confirmed that Gale Crater was a lake in the distant past and had the chemical ingredients making it suitable for life.

Curiosity has also discovered organic material during its mission and worked to solve the mysteries of methane spikes in the Martian atmosphere. Mission operators expect that Curiosity will make additional discoveries as it spends more time on Mars. The hills beyond Mont Mercou are expected to be rich in sulfates, and Curiosity plans to study them in detail.

NASA is no longer the only agency operating Rovers on the surface of Mars. This month, China landed a rover on the Red Planet, becoming only the second nation to do so.