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PRESS RELEASE
04.06.2011
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA's Next Mars Rover Nears Completion

NASA Mars Rover Curiosity at JPL, Side View
NASA Mars Rover Curiosity at JPL, Side View
NASA Mars Rover Curiosity at JPL, Side View

Assembly and testing of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is far enough along that the mission's rover, Curiosity, looks very much as it will when it is investigating Mars.

Testing continues this month at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., on the rover and other components of the spacecraft that will deliver Curiosity to Mars. In May and June, the spacecraft will be shipped to NASA Kennedy Space Center, Fla., where preparations will continue for launch in the period between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18, 2011.

The mission will use Curiosity to study one of the most intriguing places on Mars -- still to be selected from among four finalist landing-site candidates. It will study whether a selected area of Mars has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life and for preserving evidence about whether Martian life has existed.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about the mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl.

2011-108

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov


Arm and Mast of NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Full Size Image

Arm and Mast of NASA Mars Rover Curiosity

The arm and the remote sensing mast of the Mars rover Curiosity each carry science instruments and other tools for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. This image, taken April 4, 2011, inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., shows the arm on the left and the mast just right of center. For scale, the white segment of the arm extending vertically from its connection to the rover body is about 0.6 meter (2 feet) long.

A percussive drill and sample-handling system on the arm will prepare samples of fine powder taken from interiors of Martian rocks and deliver them to two analytical instruments inside the rover. The turret of tools at the end of the arm -- in the far left in this image -- also has a color camera, an element-identifying spectrometer, a scoop for collecting soil samples and a brush for cleaning rock surfaces.

The circle in the white box at the top of the mast is the laser and telescope of an instrument that can zap a rock up to about 7 meters (23 feet) away and determine its composition from a spark generated by the laser. Just below that circle is the square opening for a wide-angle camera that is paired with a telephoto camera (the smaller square opening to the left) in the rover's primary scientific camera, which can take high-definition color video with both "eyes." Two stereo navigation cameras on the mast will provide three-dimensional information about the rovers surroundings for use in driving and planning other rover operations. Partway up the mast are sensors for the mission's weather station.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA Mars Rover Curiosity at JPL, View from Front Left CornerFull Size Image

NASA Mars Rover Curiosity at JPL, View from Front Left Corner

The rover for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, named Curiosity, is seen here inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif, on April 4, 2011. Support equipment is holding the rover slightly off the floor. When the wheels are on the ground, the top of Curiosity's mast is about 2.2 meters (7 feet) above ground level.

JPL is preparing Curiosity and the Mars Science Laboratory's cruise stage, descent stage and back shell for shipment to NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, in May and June. Launch is scheduled for the period from Nov. 25 to Dec. 18, 2011, with landing on Mars in August 2012. During a mission lasting one Mars year (687 Earth days), researchers will use 10 science instruments on the rover to investigate whether conditions in one of the most intriguing areas of Mars have been favorable for life and favorable for preserving evidence about whether life has existed there.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Top of Mars Rover Curiosity's Remote Sensing MastFull Size Image

Top of Mars Rover Curiosity's Remote Sensing Mast

The remote sensing mast on NASA Mars rover Curiosity holds two science instruments for studying the rover's surroundings and two stereo navigation cameras for use in driving the rover and planning rover activities. This view of the top of the mast was taken April 4, 2011, inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. For scale, the width of the white box at the top is about 0.4 meter (16 inches).

The circle in the white box is the laser and telescope of an instrument named Chemistry and Camera, or ChemCam. The instrument can pulse its laser at a rock up to about 7 meters (23 feet) away and determine the rock's composition by examining the resulting spark with the telescope and spectrometers.

Just below that circle is the square opening for a wide-angle camera that is paired with a telephoto camera (the smaller square opening to the left) in the rover's Mast Camera, or Mastcam, which can take high-definition, full-color video with both "eyes." Each of the two Mastcam camera heads has a wheel of filters that can be used for studying geological targets at specific visible-light and infrared wavelengths.

Farther outward from each of the Mastcam cameras are circular lens openings for the rover's stereo navigation camera and its backup twin.

ChemCam was conceived, designed and built by a U.S.-French team led by Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N. M.; the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (the French government space agency); the Centre d'Étude Spatiale des Rayonnements at the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France; and JPL.

Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, provided Mastcam.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. This mission will land Curiosity on Mars in August 2012. Researchers will use the tools on the rover to study whether the landing region has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and favorable for preserving clues about whether life existed.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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