Curiosity Mars Rover
On August 6, 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover lived through "7 minutes of terror" and made a spectacular landing on Mars in Gale Crater. Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability."
The rover carries the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface. The rover will analyze samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks. It carries a radioisotope power system that generates electricity from the heat of plutonium's radioactive decay.
2. NASA website for Curiosity (mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl)
5. YouTube video: "We're NASA and We Know It (Mars Curiosity)" (3 min)
Astronomy at Augustana College