CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians guide the backshell as it is lowered over NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, for encapsulation. The backshell, a protective cover, carries the parachute and several components used during later stages of entry, descent and landing. 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.
Image Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
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