Spacecraft specialists test the descent stage and rover of the Mars Science Laboratory in this scene from the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
These components were shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., in June 2011, for final preparation for launch. The mission will launch during the period Nov. 25 to Dec. 18, 2011, and land the rover Curiosity on Mars in August 2012. Researchers will use tools on Curiosity to study whether the landing region has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life existed.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.