To find out if there is, or has ever been, life on Mars, Curiosity will carry the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface. It will analyse dozens of samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks. The record of the planet’s climate and geology is essentially written in the rocks and soil – in their formation, structure and chemical composition. The rover’s onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils and the local geologic setting in order to detect chemical building blocks of life (that is, forms of carbon) on Mars, and assess what the Martian environment was like in the past. Watch this animation showing the major mission events of the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars…
Read more about Curiosity and how space exploration is taking a bold step in the December 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics – on sale on 21 November.
How Curiosity will be powered on Mars