Curiosity on Mars: Project Scientist John Grotzinger at the Museum

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How do you land a one-ton SUV-sized vehicle on Mars? How do you determine whether Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun and our planetary neighbor, could have harbored life? These were the main questions for the researchers who designed and assembled the Curiosity rover, which landed successfully on Mars last August and is now exploring the red planet.

Curiosity Rover digging on Mars

During November Curiosity used its robotic arm to dig five scoopfuls of material from a patch of dusty sand called Rocknest, producing the bite-mark pits visible in this image from the rover's left Navigation Camera (Navcam). Each of the pits is about 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide.

Credit: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Project scientist John Grotzinger, recently featured in The New Yorker, appears tonight at the Museum to discuss the Curiosity mission, slated to last for one Martian year (23 Earth months).

Learn more about Curiosity's unprecedented landing on Mars, in a Science Bulletins video.

Purchase tickets to tonight's talk: Curiosity's Mission at Gale Crater, Mars, with NASA's John Grotzinger