Reporters get first in-person look at new Mars rover
Reporters on Monday got to see the laboratory where engineers and scientists have been preparing the "Curiosity" Mars rover.
April 4th, 2011
09:31 PM ET

Reporters get first in-person look at new Mars rover

Reporters put on "bunny suits" before visiting the new rover.

NASA's next Mars rover, "Curiosity," was unveiled to reporters Monday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California.

"Curiosity" is about the size of a Mini Cooper and weighs about 2,000 pounds.  It has six 20-inch wheels and is far bigger than its predecessors "Spirit" and "Opportunity." It also is equipped with a drill that will be looking at "interesting rocks" in hopes of finding hydrocarbons or any signs that life could have existed at any time on the red planet.

It is set to be launched from Florida in late November, and will take about 10 months to travel to Mars.  Scientists hope to gather information from the mission for at least two years.

Getting to see the rover up close meant going through a "clean entry," which meant reporters had to wipe down all equipment and don a "bunny suit," efforts to prevent "earthly contaminants" from attaching to the rover.  The suit included a shower cap-type cover for your head, booties to cover your shoes, a hood that covered your neck and snapped under your chin, a mask that hooked onto your ears and another pair of boots that came just to your knees and gloves.

Next was an air shower, and then a quick walk on some tacky paper to catch the last bit of whatever off the bottom of your shoes.

The rover was named in 2009 by Clara Ma, then a 12-year-old student from Lenexa, Kansas, who submitted the winning essay in a nationwide naming contest.  For her prize, she was flown to the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, where she not only got to see the rover, but also got to sign the bottom of it.  She also has been invited to watch the launch in Florida.

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Filed under: Mars • Science • Space
soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. Guester

    Send people instead of another rover.

    April 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • vorlon

      And spend 10 times the cost with humans being less productive than robots? Less room for sophisticated equipment? No, I don't think so, and NASA is doing just fine with this project.

      May 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Donaghy

      Sending people to Mars is what all these rovers are leading to. Its an eventuality, and will be worth the cost.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Tad Pole

      @Vorlan: ten times the cost is not accurate. It is more like 100 times.

      May 26, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. haha

    They need to drop it 3 inches and puts some 20s on it.

    April 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Last_Warrior

      It has 20's on it already.

      May 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      It needs spinners and an 18-inch subwoofer.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. leeintulsa

    They've found asteroids almost entirely made of gold. Who knows what valuables could be on mars? I bet if they find gold or (proof of ancient life?) oil, we get men/women up there pretty quick...

    April 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • MEngineer101

      Gold is a heavy metal and the cost of getting it back to earth would make it's own value negligible. That said they usually take a couple hundred pounds of rocks back from the moon so maybe they should take some gold instead.

      May 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      "They" have not found asteroids "almost entirely made of gold". Don't know where you heard that, but it's nonsense.

      May 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gumby

      No one has found asteroids made of gold. Where do you get your science from, comic books?

      May 27, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ron San Bruno CA

    I'd like to know, if NASA can send a Mini Cooper to Mars, why they can't discover why michele bachmann can't blink.

    April 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • joeNYC

      They do know why. But its a coverup. See? State secret.

      April 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gs018


      May 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim L.

    @Rick & Warren

    Rick, You are precisely right. Warren fails to correctly analyze cost whatseover, and in fact you pointed out tertiary (or ancillary) costs; he missed even easier associated costs. The problem with zealots, whether they are hawkish like Warren, or tree huggers like others here is that they are Republicans (typically) or Democrats first, and pretty much anything else second. It's a shame because that bias clouds judgement. The proof? How could somebody post a comment that 160 missles ONLY cost $160 million, when everybody knows that the R&D behind these things (that we as taxpayers also paid for) is often thousands of times over what the missle itself costs to make! Clouded judgement, or simply cognitively dereft. Since he's tuned into a NASA article about a rover, I'm simply guessing the former. To close, as they say a baseball bat costs about a dollar to make, the first one though costs about $100,000. Done, and won.

    April 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris S

      Perhaps you should get off your high horse, a55ho|3. Talkin' all kinds of crap about people online, trying to impress a whole bunch of nobody's (just like yourself by the way, fkn loser). Eat a bag of schmegma.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Hmm. Pompous much? BTW: there is no such word as "dereft".

      May 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Better to invest in scientific research than throwing money away at welfare. Scientific research benefits society in the long run, including the poor, with better advances in medicine, technology, etc. Nasa has been responsible for so many great inventions to today that make our lives better.

    April 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason


      Can you give us tangible examples with actual amounts invested in space research and the return?

      April 6, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Jason, have you ever used a cell phone or watched TV?

      April 6, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
    • joeNYC

      @jason. The computer you type on. The MRI machine your dad was in last year. Just 2 small examples. Now, if you don't think there's anything else, then please research it yourself to prove your own point. Think a little... put your own brain to work.

      April 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Clearly, you don't know much either about the relative expenditures on these two categories of budget line items, or their human benefit. Actually, all that technological innovation has had a net NEGATIVE impact on the US–it has resulted in tens of millions of people losing their jobs due to automation, a plummet in the inflation-adjusted income of the average American family, and–due to globalization and offshoring–the collapse of our economy and corresponding rise of China and India. All so we can have whiz-bang gadgets we actually don't need, and so those at the top of the economic pyramid can have medical treatments the rest of us can't access or afford. Whoopie, progress.

      May 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Me

    Can we get better photos? Maybe more then one badly cropped photo.... Never mind I will just goto NASA's website.

    April 5, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jason

    NASA is as predictable as ever! They try to avoid budget cuts that should furlow their inefficient government employees, by coming up with crap stories such as this one (which reporters are too eager to jump on) or that they say they have found evidence of fosil life in a metorite which also ended up being BS. Oh, let's not forget about the spin-off of space research. We spend $50 Billion and reap spin offs worth millions, what a deal!

    April 6, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Your a moron... How do think you are able to post your post, it came from tec out of the space race. How did you come up with with your money figures? The electronic industry is worth trillions... solar cells, micro computers, fuel cells, high effect batteries, medicine, testing equipment, night vision, IR, weather satellites, telecommunication satellites, TV satellites, satellites in general and so on, these came from NASA research.
      Oh it was NOT a meteorite, it was a rock that came from mars, a meteorite comes from either the inner or outer belts & that rock does have fossilized micro organizes on it.

      April 6, 2011 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • joeNYC

      Completely agree. Those are fossilized micro-organisms. There is life out there folks. We just haven't found it. Yet.

      April 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cmack

    i dig martians

    April 6, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. DavidC

    One thing that is missing from this article is any word on how they plan to land this beast on Mars. Is it light enough to use the bounce-and-roll airbag system used by Spirit and Opportunity?-It doesn't sound like it.

    April 6, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dee

    No matter if you boycott gas on Friday or not, you will still use what you use and have to buy it sometime, why don't we all start moving closer to work and walk or bike to get around.

    April 6, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • joeNYC

      Oh yes, I so want to live in the crowded city surrounded by dregs, bedbugs, and roaches. So much better than living on half an acre in the burb. NOT.

      April 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. joeNYC

    Do they have religion on Mars? Like... what happens if we colonize another planet.. what direction do the Muslims face at prayer time, given that Mecca is on earth? When would an Orthodox Jew observe Shabbat? There is no 'Friday night sundown' on Mars.

    April 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg Smith

      I would hope if/when we colonize another planet, it will first be declared a religion-free zone. There's no point in leaving Earth just to transplant the seeds of future problems on another planet.

      May 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. James

    Sending another rover to mars eh? So what did they find that they are so interested in? Spirit was there for 7 years, they must love what they are finding. They are lying to us, about everything including alien life form, that is what is going on. Tired of their cover ups.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jonathan Evans

    I don't have the reference handy so I apologize. But, I am sure if you do some research on your own you will find that a Congressional Budget Office audit came up with the figure of approximately $2.00 in return from realization of new technologies for every $1.00 spent in the entire history of NASA's existence. Read, ask questions, find facts... Please refrain from speculating just for the sake of creating argument. It shows a lack of initiative and makes one seem to lack the intelligence that enabled human beings to walk on the Moon. Or, more importantly get 3 men back from a mission to the moon that was threatened from a sudden explosion by working together and coming up with solutions on the fly. As humans, we can hypothesize, investigate, test, evaluate and come up with much more sensible statements and ideas than what I read on comment pages like this far too often. Peace
    "How many things have to happen to you, before something occurs to you? -Robert Frost

    May 25, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bankruptcy paralegal duties

    Thank you for every other wonderful article. The place else could anybody get that kind of information in such an ideal way of writing? I've a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the search for such info.

    October 31, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
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