A laboratory the size of a small car will touch down on Mars in 2010 and gather details on the red planet.
The Mars Science Lab — the biggest lander — will be launched in 2009 by NASA to beam home out-of-the-ordinary data for a year, said James Graf, deputy director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, USA.
“Mars missions are extremely exciting. This one will give us more answers because of the instruments on board,” he told reporters at the 58th International Astronautical Congress.
Graf said Phoenix Mars Lander was “on track” to land in 2008, nine months after its launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On touch-down, the solar-powered lander will run lab tests assessing whether the planet could have been hospitable to microbial life.