The suspension system on NASA Mars rover Curiosity easily accommodates rolling over a ramp in this Sept. 10, 2010, test drive inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The suspension system on NASA Mars rover Curiosity easily accommodates rolling over a ramp in this Sept. 10, 2010, test drive inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The rover, like its smaller predecessors already on Mars, uses a rocker bogie suspension system to drive over uneven ground.

The Spacecraft Assembly Facility at JPL has been the birthplace of many interplanetary spacecraft, including NASA's two Voyagers, Galileo, Cassini and the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project will launch Curiosity in late 2011 for arrival at Mars in August 2012. The mission will study whether an intriguing area of Mars has offered environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and for preserving evidence of whether life existed there.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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