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Published on Aug 5, 2012
NASA attempts to safely land Curiosity rover on surface of the red planet.
Related Story: Mars Rover On Final Approach for Landing Tonight
NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover closed in on its target today, all systems go for a landing on Mars late tonight (Monday morning at 1:31 a.m. EDT). If there's anxiety at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which controls the mission, one can understand.
Curiosity (the mission's formal name is Mars Science Laboratory) is the largest, most expensive and most ambitious Mars probe sent by the United States in a generation. It's been a decade in the making and ran up bills of $2.5 billion.
NASA is playing down expectations, but if the building blocks of life are buried in the Martian soil, Curiosity's miniature onboard chemistry laboratory is designed to pick them out.
"Can we do this? Yeah, I think we can do this. I'm confident," Doug McCuistion, head of the Mars exploration program at NASA headquarters, said Saturday. "We have the A-plus team on this. They've done everything possible to ensure success, but that risk still exists."