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Mars Science Laboratory
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MISSION

read 'overview'
Mars Science Laboratory is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability."
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read 'science'
Mars Science Laboratory will assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting microbial life. Determining past habitability on Mars gives NASA and the scientific community a better understanding of whether life could have existed on the red planet and, if it could have existed, an idea of where to look for it in the future.
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read 'technology'
Technology development makes missions possible. Each Mars mission is part of a continuing chain of innovation. Each relies on past missions for proven technologies and contributes its own innovations to future missions. This chain allows NASA to push the boundaries of what is currently possible, while still relying on proven technologies.
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read 'launch vehicle'
A launch vehicle provides the velocity needed by a spacecraft to escape Earth's gravity and set it on its course for Mars. The Atlas V 541 vehicle was selected for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
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read 'Spacecraft'
The spacecraft is the protective "spaceship" that enables the precious cargo (that is, the rover!) to travel between Earth and Mars. It is separate from the launch vehicle that carries the spacecraft and the rover outside of Earth's atmosphere and gravity pull.
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read 'rover'
The rover is a wheeled vehicle with science instruments for discoveries on the martian surface. In some sense, the Mars Science Laboratory rover's parts will be similar to what any living creature would need to keep it "alive" and able to explore.
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read 'instruments'
The Mars Science Laboratory rover will act as a robot geologist while it is on the surface of Mars. The science instruments it carries are state-of-the-art tools for acquiring information about the geology, atmosphere, environmental conditions, and potential biosignatures on Mars.
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read 'timeline'
The phases of the mission include pre-launch activities, launch, cruise, approach, entry, descent, and landing, and surface operations.
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read 'Communications With Earth'
The NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) is an international network of antennas that provide the communication links between the scientists and engineers on Earth to the missions in space and on Mars.
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read 'mission team'
While numerous individuals make vital contributions without which this mission could not occur, listed here are the key team members.
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read 'timeline'
Take a look at Curiosity’s current location at Gale Crater and see Curiosity’s countdown clock, which shows how many days the rover has been on the surface.
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