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25 November 2011Last updated at 16:07 By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News Continue reading the main story Project costed at $2.5bn; will see initial surface operations lasting two Earth years Onboard plutonium generators will deliver heat and electricity for at least 14 years 75kg science payload more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier US Mars rovers Equipped with tools to brush and drill into rocks, to scoop up, sort and sieve samples Variety of analytical techniques to discern chemistry in rocks, soil and atmosphere Will try to make first definitive identification of organic (carbon rich) compounds Even carries a laser to zap rocks; beam will identify atomic elements in rocks MSL - the biggest and best Mars mission yet All is set for one of the most ambitious space missions ever devised. Nasa is about to launch its latest Mars rover, nicknamed Curiosity, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Nasa ready to launch Mars rover Nasa ready to launch Mars rover
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NASA Earth Observatory : Home World of Change Satellite images showing how our world— forests, oceans, cities, even the Sun— has changed in recent decades. Read more Blue Marble Composite satellite images of the entire Earth.

NASA Earth Observatory : Home