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Oh the Places (on Mars) You'll Go! Here's Where NASA's Curiosity Rover Is Headed

Curiosity will be coming 'round the Martian mountain when it comes — and a colorful new animation highlights where exactly the mission is headed.

Since 2012, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have been exploring Mars with the car-size rover called Curiosity. A sixth grader named this robot during a contest run by the space agency 10 years ago. And, oh, the places Curiosity will go! 

The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp, which rises about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the base of Gale Crater, since 2014. Curiosity is currently analyzing rock samples in a place called the ''clay-bearing unit'' and might someday reach rocky cliffs with sulfate minerals, according to a May 15 statement by the space agency. 

Related: Monster Mars Dust Storms May Have Blown Red Planet's Water Away

This animation shows a proposed route for NASA's Curiosity rover, which is climbing Mount Sharp on Mars. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/University of Arizona/JHUAPL/MSSS/USGS Astrogeology Science Center)

NASA officials say each region represents a different period in the mountain's history, and the ''sulfate-bearing unit,'' for example, might reveal if the area once had liquid water that dried up billions of years ago.

Curiosity isn't just studying the ground below. Two months ago, the rover's Mast Camera captured each of Mars' tiny moons crossing the face of the sun. The instrument is fitted with a solar filter that lets it look directly at the star.

Follow Doris Elin Salazar on Twitter @salazar_elin. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.  

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