Los Angeles Times

Curiosity countdown: Biggest-yet Mars rover speeds toward destiny

The Curiosity rover is within 100 days of landing on Mars, and JPL scientists are jazzed about the upcoming adventures of the biggest rover yet sent to the Red Planet.

The Mini Cooper-sized vehicle, ensconced within the Mars Science Laboratory, is speeding toward the Red Planet, rapidly whittling away the 352-million-mile journey.

Meanwhile, on Monday, a handful of journalists gathered in the California desert for a confab with Caltech's John Grotzinger, project scientist for Curiosity. In an area where the terrain resembles Mars, they talked science and what the Curiosity will be up to after its scheduled touchdown on Aug. 5.  The Times' Amina Khan was among those in attendance and will be reporting back.

The Mars Science Laboratory blasted off on its eight-month trip on Nov. 26.  As The Times reported, the liftoff was flawless.  Joy Crisp, witness and deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge,  reacted to the launch of the mission succinctly: "Whew! That felt so good."

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-- Amy Hubbard, Los Angeles Times

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