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A Sneak Preview of the Mars Science Lab

The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered, car–sized vehicle aims to drill deeper and learn more.

By Matthew Hutson
Jan 26, 2009 6:00 AMNov 12, 2019 5:32 AM


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Even as the Phoenix Mars Lander completed its mission and sent its last transmission from the frigid Martian arctic last November, NASA engineers were busy getting their next, even more ambitious Mars mission under way. The Mars Science Laboratory will be the most sophisticated and versatile robot ever to touch down on alien soil.

The $1.9 billion Mars Science Lab, slated to be launched in the fall of 2011 and to land less than a year later, will carry a six-wheeled, plutonium-powered research vehicle the size of a Mini Cooper.

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