NASA’s Curiosity probe launched from the Kennedy Space Center today, heading for Mars to conduct (literally) ground-breaking work to try to discover if the red planet was – or perhaps still is – suitable for microbial life.
The size of a car, the probe weights a tonne and has six wheels to help it get around on the rocky Martian surface. Curiosity will travel 354m miles over 8 months before reaching Mars, where it will then spend two years testing and analysing the surface.
All of this assumes, of course, that Curiosity reaches Mars in one piece. Missions to Mars have a high failure rate and there’s no guarantee that the $2.5bn mission will ever reach its target.