CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, spacecraft technicians secure an Atlas V rocket payload fairing around NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). Next, the lab will be transported to the launch pad. The fairing will protect the spacecraft from the impact of aerodynamic pressure and heating during ascent. 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 the 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. Launch of MSL aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is planned for Nov. 25 from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
More information about Curiosity is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/msl or http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.
Image Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann
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