The Mars Science Laboratory, known as Curiosity, is on track to land on Mars on August 6.
Curiosity was fully integrated and tested in the High Bay 1 cleanroom at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., a JPL spokesman confirmed. The JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology. The Spacecraft Assembly Facility is a Class 10,000 ISO 7 cleanroom with horizontal airflow and return. After its cleanroom testing was completed, the rover was sent to the Kennedy Space Center and was launched from Cape Canaveral in November 2011.
The purpose of the mission is to study Mars' habitability. The one-ton rover will carry an advanced suite of instruments to collect samples from the soil and drilled from rocks. The rover's onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils, and the local geologic setting in order to detect forms of carbon on Mars and will assess what the martian environment was like in the past.
Curiosity has made several course maneuvers during its flight to Mars, in order to enable it to land in its targeted spot. The spacecraft will descend on a parachute and then, during the final seconds prior to landing, lower the upright rover on a tether to the surface, much like a sky crane. Once on the surface, the rover will be able to roll over obstacles up to 29 in high and travel up to 295 ft per hour. On average, the rover is expected to travel about 98 ft per hour, based on power levels, slippage, steepness of the terrain, visibility, and other variables. The rover will be on Mars for at least one martian year (687 Earth days).
Release Date: July 29, 2012