In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, all elements of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission have come together. The top portion is the cruise stage, next, the aeroshell, (containing the compact car-sized rover Curiosity), and on the bottom, the heat shield.
The rover Curiosity has 10 science instruments designed to search for evidence on whether Mars has had environments favorable to microbial life, including chemical ingredients for life. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release its gasses so that the rover’s spectrometer can analyze and send the data back to Earth. Launch of MSL aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled for Nov. 25 from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson