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Atlas V Rocket Launches

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - NOVEMBER 26: In this handout provided by NASA, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover aboard clears the tower during launch at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station November 26, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Sealed inside the rocket's protective payload fairing is NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, beginning a 9-month interplanetary cruise to Mars where it is designed to search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source.. (Photo by Darrell L. McCall/NASA via Getty Images)

Ten facts about Curiosity's journey to Mars

6 August 2012

NASA's Curiosity, packed with sophisticated instruments, touched down on Mars on a quest for signs of whether the planet has evidence of past and present habitable environments. Moments after landing, Curiosity beamed back its first three images from the Martian surface, one of them showing a wheel of the vehicle and the rover's shadow cast on the rocky terrain. The craft's descent through Mars' thin atmosphere, a feat called the most elaborate and risky achievement in the annals of robotic spaceflight, turned out to be short-lived cliffhanger, much to NASA's relief. Here are a few things to know about Curiosity: