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Curiosity and the Mars Science Laboratory Mission

Rover Curiosity

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Mission Status: Active

NASA's Curiosity rover is home to the Mars Science Laboratory – an assembly of instruments probing the red planet for evidence of past conditions that could once have supported life.

Launched from Cape Canaveral on , Curiosity carries a Canadian-made geology instrument that analyzes the chemical composition of the rocks and soil on Mars.

The mobile lab features 10 different instruments. Each has specialized capabilities to investigate the current environment of the planet. Analyzing data gathered by all of the instruments will help scientists find out if Mars was once a more hospitable place.

Canada has extended its participation in the Mars Science Laboratory mission to .

As of , Curiosity has travelled a distance of 22.1 km on the Martian surface, and its Canadian instrument APXS has analyzed 917 samples and sent 1981 results back to Earth.

This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle on lower Mount Sharp. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Curiosity is delving into Mars's environmental history in much greater detail than previous missions. This laboratory on wheels is a motorized field geologist and geochemist, testing samples of the Martian surface using its Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Specially designed for use on Mars, APXS is analyzing samples to help determine whether our closest planetary neighbour could be suitable for human habitation.

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