A HISTORIC VOYAGE to Mars has begun with the launch of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity.
The mission will pioneer precision landing technology and a sky-crane touchdown to place Curiosity near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater on August 6, 2012.
During a nearly two-year prime mission after landing, the rover will investigate whether the region has ever offered conditions favourable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life.
The Atlas V rocket initially lofted the spacecraft into Earth orbit and then, with a second burst from the vehicle’s upper stage, pushed it out of Earth orbit into a 567-million-kilometre journey to Mars.
Adapted from information issued by NASA.
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