December 2, 2003
Sunset on Mars catches NASA's Mars Science Laboratory in the foreground in this artist's concept. The mission is under development for launch in 2009 and a precision landing on Mars in 2010.
Once on the ground, the Mars Science Laboratory would analyze dozens of samples scooped up from the soil and cored from rocks as it explores with greater range than any previous Mars rover. It would investigate the past or present ability of Mars to support life. NASA is considering nuclear energy for powering the rover to give it a long operating lifespan.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., is managing development of the Mars Smart Laboratory for the NASA Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.