Curiosity's Backshell, Rover and Descent Stage Merge
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the backshell, a protective cover which carries the parachute and several components used during later stages of entry, descent and landing, has been encapsulated over NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V-541 configuration will be used to loft MSL into space. MSL's components include a compact car-sized rover, Curiosity, which has 10 science instruments designed to search for evidence on whether Mars has had environments favorable to microbial life, including chemical ingredients for life. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release its gasses so that the rover's spectrometer can analyze and send the data back to Earth. MSL is scheduled to launch Nov. 25 with a window extending to Dec. 18 and arrival at Mars Aug. 2012. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl.