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In some sense, the Mars Science Laboratory rover's parts are similar to what any living creature would need to keep it "alive" and able to explore.

The rover has a:

  • body: a structure that protects the roversĀ“ "vital organs"

  • brains: computers to process information

  • temperature controls: internal heaters, a layer of insulation, and more

  • "neck and head": a mast for the cameras to give the rover a human-scale view

  • eyes and other "senses": cameras and instruments that give the rover information about its environment

  • arm and "hand": a way to extend its reach and collect rock samples for study

  • wheels and "legs": parts for mobility

  • energy: batteries and power

  • communications: antennas for "speaking" and "listening"

Fast Facts

Mission name: Mars Science Laboratory

Rover name: Curiosity rover

Size: About the size of a small SUV -- 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall -- (about 3 meters long (not including the arm), 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall), or about the height of a basketball player.

Arm Reach: About 7 feet (2.2 meters)

Weight: 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds)

Features: Geology lab, rocker-bogie suspension, rock-vaporizing laser and lots of cameras

Mission: To search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable for life, and conditions capable of preserving a record of life

7:02 a.m. PST, Nov. 26, 2011
(10:02 a.m. EST)

10:32 p.m. PDT, Aug. 5, 2012
(1:32 a.m. EDT, Aug. 6, 2012)

Length of mission on Mars: The prime mission lasted one Mars year or about 23 Earth months.

Follow Your Curiosity:

Mission Fact sheet: Download the Mars Science Laboratory Fact Sheet
(PDF, 1.44 MB)

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