Web Date: November 29, 2011
Curiosity On Its Way To Mars
The National Aeronautics & Space Administration launched the mega-sized Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission without a hitch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on November 26—a day later than the original launch estimate—on a nine-month journey to Mars.
The star of NASA’s $2.5 billion project is an instrument-laden rover named Curiosity, which carries fully equipped chemistry labs designed to study Mars’ habitability (C&EN, Nov. 21, page 32). If all goes as planned, Curiosity will land inside Gale crater on Mars in August 2012 and spend two years studying the red planet’s terrain and atmosphere.
MSL team members cheered as the Atlas rocket bearing the craft lifted into the air and then again as Curiosity successfully separated from the rocket and headed on its own into space.
“We are very excited about sending the world’s most advanced scientific laboratory to Mars,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
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