May 15, 2003
Prelaunch at Kennedy Space Center
Workers in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility prepare the heat shield that will be attached to the backshell, surrounding Mars Exploration Rover 1 (MER-1). NASA's twin Mars Exploration Rovers are designed to study the history of water on Mars. These robotic geologists are equipped with a robotic arm, a drilling tool, three spectrometers, and four pairs of cameras that allow them to have a human-like, 3D view of the terrain. Each rover could travel as far as 100 meters in one day to act as Mars scientists' eyes and hands, exploring an environment where humans can't yet go. MER-1 is scheduled to launch June 25 as MER-B aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.