From NASA -- launched its newest, largest and most sophisticated rover yet to Mars on November 26, marking an important step toward the ambitious goal of one day landing humans on the surface of the Red Planet.
The Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity rover, lifted off early on Friday from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in
. After an 8 1/2-month journey, the rover is expected to arrive at the Red Planet in August 2012. Once on the surface, Curiosity will investigate whether the planet is or ever was habitable. Florida
The rover, equipped with 10 different instruments, which allow it to dig, drill, and shoot a laser into rocks and examine the chemical makeup of Martian soil and dust. The mission will help scientists understand the environment and atmosphere of Mars, which will be essential for planning a manned mission to the planet.
"The goal is to send humans to Mars and return them back again safely — in order to return them back safely, we really need to know about the surface properties," Doug Ming, a co-investigator for the Mars Science Laboratory, said in a news briefing Wednesday (Nov. 23) from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
Artist's concept of a future Mars mission shows astronauts near a lander on the Red Planet
What do you think about future missions that will take humans to Mars?
See my previous post on this Mars Mission ~ Here ~