Mars Rover 'Curiosity' Launches

Thousands converge to watch
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2011 9:09 AM CST
NASA Mars Rover 'Curiosity' Launches
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rolls toward the launch pad on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Nov. 25, 2011. Atop the rocket is NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover.   (AP Photo/NASA)

The world's biggest extraterrestrial explorer is on its way to Mars. NASA today launched the six-wheeled, one-armed robotic rover, nicknamed Curiosity. An unmanned rocket blasted off with the spacecraft from Cape Canaveral. The journey to Mars will take 8 1/2 months and cover 354 million miles. Thousands of NASA guests converged on Kennedy Space Center for the launch.

Curiosity weighs a ton and is the size of a car. It's a mobile, nuclear-powered laboratory holding 10 science instruments that will sample Martian soil and rocks, and analyze them right on the spot. There's a drill as well as a stone-zapping laser machine. Curiosity will spend two years looking for evidence that Mars may once have been—or still is—suitable for microbial life. The mission costs $2.5 billion. Click for more on the mission. (More Mars rover stories.)

Get breaking news in your inbox.
What you need to know, as soon as we know it.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.