Curiosity Rover (Mars Science Laboratory)

Curiosity is the next-generation Mars rover, scheduled to rocket toward Mars between November 25 and December 18, 2011, landing between August 6 and 20, 2012. Twice as long and four times as heavy as the Mars Exploration Rovers, Curiosity (also known as Mars Science Laboratory or "MSL") is being sent to Mars to determine whether its landing site was ever "habitable" -- that is, whether it ever had environmental conditions that could have supported microbial life. Curiosity is currently scheduled to launch between October and December of 2011 and arrive on Mars in summer 2012. Its landing site has not yet been selected but is the topic of active debate among the Mars science community. Curiosity will operate on the surface of Mars for at least one Mars year (687 Earth days). It is planned to drive 5 to 20 kilometers (3 to 12 miles) from its landing location.