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Curiosity is NASA's car-sized, nuclear-powered Mars rover that was launched aboard a NASA spacecraft on November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. At a cost of $2.6 billion, the rover is equipped with a suite of sophisticated scientific instruments for exploring the Red Planet, which include 17 cameras, a laser for surveying the composition of rocks from a distance and instruments for analyzing soil or rock samples.

Curiosity is about twice as long and five times as heavy as the Spirit and Opportunity Mars exploration rovers. Unlike previous Mars rovers, Curiosity made its dramatic entrance into Martian territory in a spectacle popularly known as the "seven minutes of terror." This landing process involved using a sky crane, cables, and the world's largest supersonic parachute to allow the rover to more accurately target the landing area.

Powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), Curiosity will be operational for two years. The rover is controlled from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

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  • Category: Mars
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