Boldly Opening a New Window Onto Mars

one-ton, S.U.V.-sized Curiosity rover .... we’re looking for habitable environments ..... Imagine buying a $2.5 billion car with a 10,000-page owner’s manual; one that you don’t just have to read but you must also write, because it’s the first and only one that will ever be made. .... We may get glimpses of time that go back so far that they are equivalent to the time on Earth when microbial life was first evolving. The earliest history of Mars is better preserved than it is on Earth ..... The essential ingredients for a habitable environment are water, energy and carbon. ..... it is a laboratory complete with funnels, test tubes, magnifiers, mass spectrometers, gas analyzers, ovens, and a sampling system with a drill strong enough to chisel away concrete. Not to mention its 17 cameras, including several with color, video capture and HD resolution. Second, it is a plutonium-powered rover, allowing it to take its laboratory on the road for years on end. ..... the most beautifully resolved, highly detailed pictures ever taken on the surface of another planet. ..... travelling almost nine months and 566 million kilometers
Mars rover Curiosity will see red planet like never before
carrying 10 science instruments -- and a wealth of high-tech camera gear

Will NASA's $2.5 billion Mars rover crash on Sunday?
NASA’s mega-mission to Mars and delivery of the Curiosity rover could be a smashing success … or just smashing .... Mars Society, which is dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of Mars. .... a never-tried-before landing system — a Sky Crane on Mars — capable of delivering 1,980 pounds (900 kilograms) to the Martian surface, which would be enough to accomplish the Mars sample return and other extraordinary missions. ..... "I feel like I’m kind of a minor stockholder in a much larger enterprise," said Kim Stanley Robinson, an American science fiction writer acclaimed for his award-winning trilogy "Red Mars," "Green Mars" and "Blue Mars."

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