The Curiosity rover is a nuclear-powered Mars rover that is part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission by the United States. Curiosity carries the most advanced payload of scientific equipment ever used on the surface of Mars.
The MSL spacecraft—with its payload Curiosity—was launched on November 26, 2011 and Curiosity was successfully landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012 UTC (August 5, 2012 PDT, NASA mission control time).
In a nearly two-year, $2.5-billion mission, the rover will explore Gale Crater, a basin with a towering mound of sedimentary layers.
Goals and objectives of Curiosity rover:
The MSL mission has four scientific goals: Determine whether Mars could ever have supported life — including the role of water, study the climate and geology of Mars. It is also useful preparation for future missions, perhaps a manned mission to Mars.
To contribute to these goals, the Curiosity rover has six main scientific objectives:
- Determine the mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials.
- Attempt to detect chemical building blocks of life (biosignatures).
- Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils.
- Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes.
- Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.
- Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic radiation, cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons.
Watch artist’s animation shows how orbiters over Mars will monitor the landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover.
Curiosity Rover Landing video and first picture
Curiosity rover infographics: