NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mars Science Laboratory aeroshell. Heat shield (top) and backshell (centre), which form the aeroshell for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft. The aeroshell will protect the Curiosity rover as it descends through Mars' atmosphere to the surface. This heat shield is the largest ever built for a planetary mission. The MSL is due for launch at the end of November 2011 and to land on Mars in August 2012 on a mission to determine if Mars is, or was ever, able to support microbial life. Photographed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA, on 1st October 2011.
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