Randy Scott, director of Kennedy Space Center's Radiological Control Center (RADCC), speaks to media during a tour regarding safety equipment and procedures for the upcoming launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. Behind him is Steve Homann, senior advisor for the Department of Energy.
The MSL spacecraft includes a multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG) that will generate the power needed for the mission from the natural decay of plutonium-238, a non-weapons-grade form of the radioisotope. MSL's components include a car-sized rover, Curiosity, which has 10 science instruments designed to search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source. Launch of MSL aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is targeted for Nov. 26 from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin