Mars Science Laboratory Launched To Red Planet
By Space Coast Daily // February 29, 2012
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – A towering Atlas 5 rocket flashed to life and vaulted into space Saturday, putting on a spectacular weekend sky show as it boosted NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory rover on an eight-and-a-half-month 352-million-mile voyage to the red planet.
Equipped with a nuclear power pack, a robot arm and a suite of sophisticated instruments, the mobile laboratory, dubbed Curiosity in a student naming contest, is expected to spend at least two years looking for organic compounds and signs of past or present habitability in the layered terrain at the heart of a 100-mile-wide crater.
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