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At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians process the backshell for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL).
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06.07.2011

Preparing the Backshell

Cape Canaveral, Fla. -- At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians process the backshell for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). The backshell carries the parachute and several components used during later stages of entry, descent and landing, and is one part of the spacecraft's heat shield which, when both are integrated is called an aeroshell. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V-541 configuration is being used to loft MSL into space. The Curiosity rover and Atlas V are expected to arrive this summer. The rover's 10 science instruments will search for habitable environments on Mars that could support life, past or present. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release the gasses so that its spectrometer can analyze and send the data back to Earth, as well as sophisticated chemistry experiments and high-powered microscopes. MSL is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Nov. 25 at 10:21 a.m. EST. For more information visit: www.nasa.gov/msl.

Image Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

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