NASA's Curiosity rover sits on launch pad waiting to blast off to Mars

The first time we talked about the NASA Curiosity rover was back in 2010 when word got around that James Cameron was helping NASA design a 3D camera for the rover. That giant $2.5 billion rover is now ready to head to Mars and is on the launch pad tucked away on top of a giant Atlas V rocket. The launch of the new rover could happen on November 25 to December 18.

It will take Curiosity nine months to reach the red planet once it launches. The trip is a total of 354-million miles. The Curiosity is a gigantic rover compared to the others we have sent to Mars in the past. The rover is 1,982 pounds and is the largest and most complex machine ever sent to another planet according to NASA.

The giant rover will use a new method to make it through the atmosphere and land safely on Mars. The first part of the insertion will use a braking heat shield. After that heat shield portion, a high-speed parachute will deploy and finally a rocket-powered sky crane will put the rover down on the surface of Mars. The massive rover has a robotic arm with a drill, a laser to sense chemistry, and eight other instruments. The beast is powered by a nuclear battery good for 14 years.

[via USA Today]