At 10:02 a.m. EST (November 26th, 2011), the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket cleared the tower at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Sealed inside the rocket’s protective payload fairing is NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, beginning a 9-month interplanetary cruise to Mars. MSL’s components include a car-sized rover, Curiosity, which has 10 science instruments designed to search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source.In the photograph, technicians at Kennedy’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility put the instrument mast and science boom on Curiosity, through a series of deployment tests. Curiosity has 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars has had environments favorable for microbial life, including chemical ingredients for life.Godspeed Curiosity!

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