National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Facebook Twitter YouTube Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr iTunes
Follow Us
Almost Ready to Roll
Almost Ready to Roll (click to enlarge)

Almost Ready to Roll
Date: 4 Apr 2011

The rover for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, named Curiosity, is about 3 meters (10 feet) long, not counting the additional length that the rover's arm can be extended forward. The front of the rover is on the left in this side view. The arm is partially raised but not extended. Rising from the rover deck just behind the front wheels is the remote sensing mast.

This image was taken inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Aside from the setting and its placement on ground support equipment, the rover appears much as it will after landing on Mars.

The mission will use 10 science instruments on the rover to investigate whether conditions in one of the most intriguing areas of Mars have been favorable for life and favorable for preserving evidence about whether life has existed there. A percussive drill and sample-handling system on the arm will prepare samples of fine powder taken from interiors of Martian rocks and deliver them to two analytical instruments inside the rover. The turret of tools at the end of the arm -- in the far left in this image -- also has a color camera, an element-identifying spectrometer, a scoop for collecting soil samples and a brush for cleaning rock surfaces.

The circle in the white box at the top of the remote sensing mast is the laser and telescope of an instrument that can zap a rock up to about 7 meters (23 feet) away and determine its composition from a spark generated by the laser. Just below that circle is the square opening for a wide-angle camera that is paired with a telephoto camera (the smaller square opening to the left) in the rover's primary scientific camera, which can take high-definition color video with both "eyes." Another camera on Curiosity will record scenes of the landing area during the spacecraft's descent. Other science instruments will monitor the weather, the natural radiation environment on Mars and the possibility of water bound into minerals in the ground.

Last Updated: 7 April 2011 (PWD)

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 7 Apr 2011