The Mars Science Laboratory; A Scientific Overview

The $2.5 billion nuclear-powered Mars Curiosity rover is the size of a small car, and is packed with scientific tools, cameras and even a weather station (Credit: NASA).

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) has landed safely on Mars, and it has begun its primary scientific job –  to assess whether life ever existed on Mars, or whether it still does exist there.

The robotic rover, Curiosity, pictured here on the right, will travel over the surface, carrying out a number of experiments. The mission is part of NASA’s long term Mars Exploration Programme, using robots to explore the Red Planet.

Scientists believe the MSL is a huge step forward in Martian exploration because it demonstrates NASA’s ability to land a very heavy rover on the surface, and helps pave the way for planned future manned mission.

LISTEN: Interview with Dr Paul Callanan (Astronomer and Physicist based at University College Cork).

This interview was broadcast on 2nd August 2012 on Science Spinning on 103.2 Dublin City FM

WATCH: NASA TV video representation of the MSL landing

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