NASA's next visitor to Mars is scheduled to land on August 6, 2012. Its mission: Search for evidence of life.
The car-sized rover called Curiosity will be NASA's biggest and most advanced robotic laboratory yet to make tracks on Mars. But it won't be the first to dig into the alien rocks and soils. Since 1976 NASA has landed six spacecraft on the Red Planet: Viking 1, Viking 2, Pathfinder, Spirit, Opportunity and Phoenix. Probing the environment with an array of tools—sensors, optics, drills and shovels—each has had to battle perilous dust storms and subfreezing temperatures to survive. And the discoveries have been worth the fight! Previous missions uncovered evidence of water, a molecule essential for all forms of life. Equipped with a suite of scientific instruments, who knows what Curiosity will find? The visualization shows the landing sites of the six NASA spacecraft to reach Mars and the target location where Curiosity will soon touch down.
Please give credit for this item to: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Viking 1 photo courtesy of NASA/Mary A. Dale-Bannister, Washington University in St. Louis Pathfinder photo courtesy of NASA/JPL Opportunity photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State University Phoenix lander photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona Phoenix trench photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University Gale Crater photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU
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