Weather permitting, this Saturday NASA will launch the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) – a rover named “Curiosity” – with the aim of determining if Mars ever had, or still has today, an environment that could sustain microbial life. Curiosity is planned to liftoff on Saturday 26 November (at 10:02 a.m. ET) aboard an Atlas V rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida for an 8 month trip to Mars.
To help determine the habitability of Mars, there are four main science goals of Curiosity: (1) to determine whether life ever arose on Mars, (2) to characterise the Martian climate, (3) to characterise the Martian geology, and (4) to prepare for human exploration. To achieve these goals there are a set of scientific objective for the mission which will include a number of biological, geological, geochemical, atmospheric, and surface radiation measurements. Curiosity carries 11 instruments (living up to its name Mars Science Laboratory!), which include 3 cameras, 4 spectrometers, 2 radiation detectors, and an environmental and an atmospheric sensor. The total weight of Curiosity is about 900 kg, and it is the size of a small SUV, measuring about 10 x 9 x 7 foot.
Good luck Curiosity!
For more details, see
- Mars Science Laboratory, NASA JPL website
- Mars Science Laboratory, NASA webite
- Curiosotiy on Facebook
- Curiosity of Twitter
- Mars, Swinburne 3D movie movie on YouTube