Click on photo to read more about the launch at Discovery News.

Yesterday, November 26, 2011, NASA launched a new rover on a voyage to Mars.  You can watch the launch on NASAtelevision at Youtube  The rover is named Curiosity (so-named by a 12 year old girl from Kansas, who won the naming contest) and it’s mission is to seek out life on Mars. This August, 2012 it’s going to undergo a new-fangled method of soft-landing (via  parachute and jets) into a crater that held water millions of years ago.  Curiosity is going to land near a mountain and over the next few years, it’s going to climb three miles up the mountain, examining the rock layers as it goes.

This rover is AMAZING.  It can pick up specimens to examine back inside the vehicle or shoot a laser at something thirty feet away to analyze its contents.  It can test the air and it has a  high resolution camera as well. They say it can function for several years in the brutal Mars environment.

If you are like me, interested in space stuff, you should get over to the American Museum of Natural History to see the new exhibit Beyond Planet Earth.  The exhibit tells the history of space exploration so far, as well as about future plans for exploration of the moon, asteroids, Mars, and Europa.  And coolest of all, it has a life sized copy of Curiosity!

Curiousity at the American Museum of Natural History

There is A LOT to see in this exhibit – several videos, an interactive test to see whether you would make a good space traveler and lots of stuff used in space exploration – including the spacesuits of the future:

Spacesuit of the future

Quite Lost in Space-ish.  The visors are lined in gold and man, they are cool.

As you exit the exhibit, there is a nice little gift shop with loads of excellent space-related swag.

The exhibit will remain at the museum until August, 2012. when the real Curiosity will land on Mars, fingers crossed.


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