NASA is all set to launch Curiosity, the most advanced (and expensive) Mars rover to date , on Saturday. Curiosity will land in Gale Crater, on the surface of Mars, to investigate a three-mile-high (5km) mountain with its impressive array of drills, lasers, scoops, and other scientific tools for signs of life. Curiosity, like its Spirit, Opportunity, Pathfinder, Viking, and Phoenix forebears, will send imagery back to Earth and analyse rock samples using an internal, robotic laboratory. Curiosity is also the template on which the European Space Agency and NASA will base ExoMars , a Mars rover that launches in 2018. Anyway, don’t excited just yet: It will take nine months for Curiosity to travel the 354 million miles (570 million km) to Mars, and considering the (seemingly) sad fate of the Russian Phobos-Grunt probe , we should really just spend the next few months thinking happy thoughts.
The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the United States’ largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe. They are also home to some of the most amazing images, visualizations and videos NASA has to offer! Please do yourself a favour and check out their incredible Flickr page which has thousands of images with wonderfully detailed descriptions. Below is a collection of 15 mind-blowing featured images from NASA. Enjoy!