NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory or Curiosity mission is heading towards the red planet. It is scheduled to arrive on Mars in August 6, 2012. It would be looking for past and/or present signs of life, study the Martian climate and geology, and collect data for future manned missions to Mars.
The Curiosity rover is larger than the previous Spirit and Opportunity Mars exploration rovers – about 5 times larger – and carries a plethora of scientific instruments. Given its size and mass, past landing systems will not work therefore it will attempt a terrifying and very precise landing maneuver that has never been used before which is best described in the video below:
Curiosity will land on the Aeolis Palus region of the Gale Crater and is designed to explore the region for around one Martian year (687 Earth days). I hope it keeps ticking even after its actual mission ends so that it can perform extra tasks much like Spirit (which got stuck in 2009 and ceased communication on March 22, 2010) and Opportunity (which is still ticking!).
Curiosity, may you reach Mars without a hitch! Have a successful landing and beam some spectacular new information that only you can provide to us soon!