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NASA readies Curiosity Mars rover for launch

Nasa is making final preparations for the launch of the agency's largest ever Mars-bound rover.The Curiosity rover, which is five times bigger than its predecessors Spirit and Opportunity, is due to launch from Cape Canavarel between 25 November and 18 December, Nasa announced on Thursday.
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor on

Nasa is making final preparations for the launch of the agency's largest ever Mars-bound rover.

The Curiosity rover, which is five times bigger than its predecessors Spirit and Opportunity, is due to launch from Cape Canavarel between 25 November and 18 December, Nasa announced on Thursday.

"The spacecraft will arrive at Mars in August 2012," Nasa wrote in a statement. "Curiosity has ten science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars had environments favourable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life."

Curiosity is equipped with imaging, x-ray, laser and monitoring instruments to help it analyse the world around it. It will be lowered to the surface of Mars by a Nasa-designed Sky Crane.

The rover will land near the base of a mountain inside the Gale crater. The spot has a fan-shaped pattern, which is typically formed by water-carried sediments.

Curiosity will communicate with Earth via radio relays using the various Mars orbiters. It will be powered by a radioisotope power generator that has an operating lifespan of around 687 days.

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