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The Curiosity rover will carry laboratory instruments to analyse samples of rocks, soil and atmosphere. The 900kg machine is too heavy to make a gas-bag assisted landing, which is why it will be lowered by skycrane.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Geometry of tracking
This diagram shows the geometry of how Mars Express will track signals from the MSL during its descent.
Image credit: Alex Lutkus/NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Mars Express orbiter
The Mars Express orbiter, pictured above, was launched on 2 June 2003 using a Russian Soyuz/Fregat launcher.
The mission spent six months cruising at a velocity of 10,800 kilometres an hour before ejecting the unsuccessful Beagle 2 lander six days before arriving in orbit around Mars.
Image credit: Alex Lutkus