For the past eight months, the Mars Science Laboratory has been hurtling through outer space carrying a very “curious” passenger. Part chemist, part geologist, part meteorologist, the large six-wheeled Curiosity Rover is the newest in a long line of unmanned robotic explorers sent away by humans to investigate other worlds.
Equipped to do more than just drive around and take cool pictures, Curiosity is loaded with a high-tech toolbox that includes lasers, drills, X-rays, spectrometers, chromatographs, alpha particle radiation, neutron pulses, and more! Scientists will use these instruments to hunt for clues that could answer the big questions about Mars. Could the planet have ever supported life? Can humans someday live there?
Before Curiosity gets to work on the ground, however, it first has to get there! NASA engineers faced with new challenges getting such a big rover safely to the surface have devised the most complex and audacious unmanned landing in our history, set to take place this Monday, August 6 at 12:31 a.m. Central Daylight Saving Time.
If Curiosity successfully lands on our distant neighbor, it could help us earthlings understand our corner of the universe as well! But you don’t have to travel all the way to Mars to see the rover up close! Visit MSI’s newest exhibit Life in Space to hang out with Dusty, a full-scale model of Curiosity!
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