Complete Coverage: NASA's Huge New Rover Launching to Mars

NASA Mars Rover Curiosity
This artist's concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Curiosity launched toward the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2011. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA newest Mars rover, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, launched toward the Red Planet on Nov. 26 at 10:02 a.m. EST (1502 GMT).  The car-size spacecraft is the largest, most ambitious rover ever bound for Mars and is expected to seek out signs that Mars may once have been habitable for life.

Follow's complete coverage of the Mars Science Laboratory's launch and cruise to Mars in this story archive:

Latest NASA Update (Nov. 26):

"A signal from NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, including the new Curiosity rover, has been received by officials on the ground. The spacecraft is flying free and headed for Mars after separation from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that started the spacecraft on its journey to the Red Planet. Liftoff was on time at 10:02 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida."

Image Galleries

Photos: Watching the Mars Rover Curiosity Blast Off
A behind-the-scenes look at Curiosity's liftoff on Nov. 26, 2011, and the hoopla surrounding it.

Photos: NASA's Curiosity Rover Launches to Mars
The Curiosity rover launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Nov. 26, 2011.

Photos: Last Look at Mars Rover Curiosity Before Launch
The Curiosity rover will launch in November 2011 and land on Mars in August 2012.  See contributor Robert Pearlman's last look at the rover before it was packed up for launch.

Photos: Curiosity Rover, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory
See photos of NASA's Martian rover Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory.

Gale Crater on Mars: Curiosity Rover's Landing Site Photos
Wondering where NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity will land? Wonder no more.

Photos of Mars: The Amazing Red Planet
See some amazing photos of Mars from space and the surface and see why it's the go-to planet for NASA's Curiosity rover.


Blastoff! Curiosity Rover Red Planet Bound
The Mars Science Laboratory, a.k.a. Curiosity, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on November 26, 2011. The 2,000 pound rover is scheduled to land on Mars in August 2012.

Mars' Radiation to be Measured by MSL
Mars' thin atmosphere – and lack of magnetic field – lets many charged and neutral particles through. Curiosity rover's Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument will check to see if astronauts could work there, as it contributes to planetary science.

Searching for Life Signs on Mars
Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory, will face challenges getting to the cold dusty world and doing science there. MSL is a very different mission from past Red Planet rovers. Here's how they compare.

How to Transport a Mars Rover Cross Country
A look behind the scenes at the trip of almost a billion dollars of Mars Science Laboratory hardware (including the rover itself) from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Video Show: Curiosity – The SUV of Mars Rovers
Animated chronicle of the Mars Science Laboratory touchdown on the red planet and the science it will perform.

Curiosity Rover's Peculiar Mars Landing Described
Animated chronicle of the Mars Science Laboratory touchdown on the red planet and the science it will perform.

New Mars Rover Powered By Plutonium
More power than can be achieved by solar panels is necessary to run the Mars Science Laboratory aka "Curiosity". Heat from the decay of plutonium dioxide will generate 110 watts of electrical power to charge the rover's batteries.

New Mars Science Rover Landing Site - Birds Eye View
The Gale Crater was chosen as the landing site for "Curiosity" (Mars Science Laboratory). Take an animated look around the area and find out what makes its a special place to explore. Planned landing date - August 2012.


Nuclear Generators Power NASA Deep Space Probes (Infographic)
For more than 50 years, NASA's robotic deep space probes have carried nuclear batteries provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

11 Amazing Things NASA's Huge Mars Rover Can Do
A look at the Curiosity rover's 10 science instruments.

7 Biggest Mysteries of Mars
Mars was known as the "fire star" to ancient Chinese astronomers, and scientists are still burning with questions regarding the Red Planet. Even after dozens of spacecraft have been sent to Mars, much remains unknown about that world. Here are some of the biggest unsolved mysteries we have about Mars.

Journey to the Red Planet: A Mars Missions Timeline
The $2.5 billion rover, called Curiosity, is the centerpiece of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is slated to lift off at 10:25 a.m. EST (1725 GMT) on Nov. 25. The car-size spacecraft will launch on an Atlas 5 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Here's a look at every mission sent to Mars so far.

Mars Explored: Landers and Rovers Since 1971 (Infographic)
Locations on Mars that have been visited by robots from Earth.

The Best (And Worst) Mars Landings In History
Reaching Mars is a hard and unforgiving endeavor, with little room for error. More than two-thirds of the 36 missions launched toward Mars have been lost due to failed components, rocket glitches or grievous errors that sent probes crashing into the martian surface or missing the planet altogether.

How the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Works (Infographic)
NASA's Martian science laboratory will launch to Mars in 2011. See the rover's key systems in this infographic.

Inside Huge Mars Rover's Sky Crane Landing (Infographic)
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, also known as the Curiosity Mars rover, is a huge six-wheeled robot the size of a small car.  Learn all about how the Mars rover's landing will work in the infographic above, then check out the following Mars rover mission features.

Feature and Mission Stories

Next Stop Mars! Huge NASA Rover Launches Toward Red Planet
NASA has launched its next Mars rover, kicking off a long-awaited mission to investigate whether the Red Planet could ever have hosted microbial life.

Wheels on Mars: New Curiosity Rover Has Big Tracks to Fill
When the Curiosity rover touches down on the surface of Mars in August 2012, it will be the fourth rover to make tracks across the Red Planet in fifteen years.

Are We There Yet? How Scientists Will Endure Curiosity's Long Trip to Mars
While the Mars Science Laboratory spends nine months traveling through space, the scientists do more than just sit idle.

NASA Mars Rover Ready for Saturday Launch
All systems appear go for the Saturday (Nov. 26) launch of NASA's next Mars rover, officials announced today (Nov. 23).

New NASA Rover May Climb 3-Mile-High Martian Mountain
Curiosity may make it all the way to the top of Gale Crater's huge sediment mound.

Record Crowds Expected at NASA Mars Rover Launch
NASA is expecting 13,500 people to view the launch of Mars Science Laboratory on Saturday.

Would a Mars Science Laboratory Launch Accident Pose a Radiation Risk?
NASA says that there is little danger from radiation from the launch.

Inside Look: The Construction of NASA's Next Mars Rover
A look at the Curiosity rover as it was being put together at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California.

New NASA Mars Rover May Help Launch Future Searches for Life
The Mars Science Laboratory is a key stepping stone in the wider search for alien life in the universe.

Mars Mission May Be Curtain Call for Plutonium-Powered Spacecraft
With a worldwide shortage of plutonium-238, future planetary science missions are in jeopardy.

FAQ: Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity Rover
Everything you need to know about the new Mars mission and rover.

Could NASA's New Mars Rover Actually Find Martian Life?
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory is not intended to find signs of life, but could it?

New NASA Rover to Look Deep into Mars' Past
Martian life may have hard an easier time gaining a foothold long ago.

Why Is It So Hard to Go to Mars?
It's not easy reaching Mars. Not at all.

NASA to Launch Mars Rover 'Dream Machine' This Week
The car-size Curiosity rover is due to launch this Saturday (Nov. 26).

NASA Delays Launch of Huge Mars Rover by 1 Day
The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity will now launch Saturday, Nov. 26.

The Biggest Mysteries of Mars
Even after dozens of spacecraft have been sent to Mars, much remains unknown about that world. Here are some of the biggest unsolved mysteries we have about Mars as NASA prepares to launch its latest Martian probe, the huge Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, on Nov. 25.

NASA's Next Mars Rover Hoisted Atop Rocket
NASA's next Mars rover has been placed atop the rocket that will launch it toward the Red Planet three weeks from now, officials announced today (Nov. 3).

Huge Mars Crater an 'Intriguing' Target for Next Nasa Rover
A giant crater on Mars destined to be the stomping ground for NASA's next rover could provide a treasure trove of intriguing science finds, researchers say.

Next Mars Rover's High-Tech Landing May Raise Contamination Risks
Mars rover missions can take steps to avoid having their wheels contaminate the Red Planet.

NASA Prepares Next Mars Rover for November Launch
The car-size Curiosity rover is being prepped to fly to the Red Planet.

Scientists 'Thrilled' With Choice of Next Mars Rover Landing Site
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity should find happy hunting at Gale Crater, scientists say.

Could NASA Rover Find Signs of Martian Life in Giant Crater?
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity will be assessing Gale Crater's habitability, not searching for life.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.