|'Curiosity' Rover will Search for Signs of Life|
According to NASA's website,
"...Curiosity has 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars had environments favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life."Dubbed 'Curiosity', this seven foot tall rover is twice as big as previous mars' rovers and weighs over a ton. It carries more than ten times the mass of scientific equipment than the Spirit and Opportunity rovers launched in 2004.
|Spectacular Mars sunset|
Curiosity will attempt a first ever, multi-stage precision landing. It will use a combination of a supersonic parachute deployed at approximately 10 km (6.2 miles) to slow decent of the spacecraft, eight directional rocket thrusters which will allow controllers to adapt to the environment and steer the craft towards the landing area. Finally, a 'sky crane' will gently lower the rover to the planet surface.
|Mars Gale Crater|
This mission comes on the heels of an attempt by Russian scientists to land a probe on one of Mars' moons, Phobos, and return samples to Earth. The spacecraft is currently trapped in low Earth orbit and scientists are struggling to restart booster engines before it falls back to Earth containing tons of unspent rocket fuel.
Watch the launch live plus other special events, documentaries, news conferences and much more at NASA TV.
images: NASA / JPL-Caltech
gale crater: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gale_crater.jpg
Martian sunset: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/69/MarsSunset.jpg/998px-MarsSunset.jpg
First published as Mars Science Lab 'Curiosity' Will Search for Signs of Life