The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet’s “habitability.” Scheduled to launch in November or December of this year, the Curiosity rover should land on Mars in August 2012. (Just before the apocalypse, yay!)
MSL Curiosity may look like the illegitimate lovechild of Johnny 5 and Wall-E, but the rover’s lab is a tour de force of extraplanetary exploratory science. Armed with sample-return technologies which enable rock, soil, and atmospheric samples back to Earth for lab analysis and a host of in-situ tools for onsite analysis, Curiosity will give us the most complete record of Mars’ geology, climate and radiation levels–information we’ll need to plan manned trips to the Red Planet.
This animation, released by NASA Friday, show’s the journey of MSL and Curiosity through launch, landing, and doing science on Mars, guys. Mars.
Sorry, I’m kind of excited about it, even though the video could be a little shorter/faster/more like Total Recall.