The rover for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, named Curiosity, is seen here inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif, on April 4, 2011. Support equipment is holding the rover slightly off the floor. When the wheels are on the ground, the top of Curiosity's mast is about 2.2 meters (7 feet) above ground level.
JPL is preparing Curiosity and the Mars Science Laboratory's cruise stage, descent stage and back shell for shipment to NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, in May and June. Launch is scheduled for the period from Nov. 25 to Dec. 18, 2011, with landing on Mars in August 2012. During a mission lasting one Mars year (687 Earth days), researchers 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.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.