Mars rover moving closer to launch

NASA’S NEXT MARS ROVER will land at the foot of a layered mountain inside the planet’s Gale Crater. The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to launch between mid-November and mid-December this year and land in August 2012.

The target crater spans 154 kilometres in diameter and holds a mountain rising higher from the crater floor than Mount Rainier rises above Seattle. Layering in the region suggests it is the surviving remnant of an extensive sequence of geological deposits.

During a prime mission lasting one Martian year—nearly two Earth years—researchers will use the rover’s tools to study whether the landing region had favourable environmental conditions for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life ever existed.

The video above provides a snapshot of work to get the rover ready for launch at the Kennedy Space Centre. The video below talks about Gale Crater and what scientists hope to find.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / JPL.

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