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Backgrounder: Basic information about NASA's Mars rover Curiosity

(Xinhua)

14:40, August 06, 2012

This graphic shows the locations of the cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover. The rover's mast features seven cameras: the Remote Micro Imager, part of the Chemistry and Camera suite; four black-and-white Navigation Cameras (two on the left and two on the right) and two color Mast Cameras (Mastcams). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is set to touch down in the Gale Crater area of Mars early Monday. The mission will study whether the Red Planet has evidence of past and present habitable environments. The following is basic information about the most sophisticated mobile science lab ever sent to another world.

HOW DID CURIOSITY GET ITS NAME?

Curiosity is a lander of the Mars Science Laboratory mission. In 2008, NASA held a naming contest open to students and selected Curiosity, proposed by a sixth-grader from Kansas.

HOW BIG IS IT?

The Mini Cooper-sized rover is much bigger than its rover predecessors, Spirit, Opportunity and Sojourner. Curiosity is twice as long (about 2.8 meters, or 9 feet) and five times as heavy as Spirit and Opportunity, which landed in 2004. Sojourner, about the size of a microwave oven, landed in 1997 as part of the Mars Pathfinder mission.
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