4..3..2…1…MSL Launches to the Red Planet

The Atlantic Ocean provides a backdrop as the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket clears the tower at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Sealed inside the rocket’s protective payload fairing is NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, beginning a 9-month interplanetary cruise to Mars. Liftoff was at 10:02 a.m. EST Nov. 26. MSL’s components include a car-sized rover, Curiosity, which has 10 science instruments designed to search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source.

Image Credit: NASA/Darrell L. McCall

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