A Laboratory on Mars: NASA’s Curiosity Rover Will Search for Signs of Life

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This Saturday, November 26, NASA will launch its biggest, most advanced rover yet: the one-ton Curiosity, a mobile laboratory with a two-year mission to find out whether Mars has ever supported life. See a life-sized model of Curiosity in the Museum’s new exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Explorationthen explore how Mars might be transformed into a more hospitable planet with an interactive terraforming table.


The Mars Curiosity rover launches Saturday, November 26. © AMNH/5W Infographics

Beginning with Sojourner, the 23-lb rover sent to Mars in 1997 as part of the Pathfinder mission, Mars rovers have provided scientists with invaluable information about the red planet. Now it’s Curiosity’s turn. The rover will carry 10 scientific instruments, including a laser to vaporize Martian rock samples to reveal their composition, a set of tools to check for organic compounds in samples of Martian soil and atmosphere, and an instrument to detect ice or hydrated minerals underground.

This infographic originally appeared in the Fall issue of Rotunda, the Member magazine.