NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life, is in development for a launch opportunity in 2011 (previously 2009). This picture is an artist's concept portraying what the advanced rover would look like in Martian terrain, from a side aft angle.
The arm extending from the front of the rover is designed both to position some of the rover's instruments onto selected rocks or soil targets and also to collect samples for analysis by other instruments. Near the base of the arm is a sample preparation and handling system designed to grind samples, such as rock cores or small pebbles, and distribute the material to analytical instruments.
The mast, rising to about 2.1 meters (6.9 feet) above ground level, supports two remote-sensing instruments: the Mast Camera for stereo color viewing of surrounding terrain and material collected by the arm, and the ChemCam for analyzing the types of atoms in material that laser pulses have vaporized from rocks or soil targets up to about 9 meters (30 feet) away.