Watch CBS News

Mars Rover To Blast Into Space With Key Component Built In Md.

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- It will forever change what we know about the planet Mars. Saturday, the Mars rover "Curiosity" will blast into space.

Monique Griego has more on its link to Maryland.

It's the biggest and most advanced rover to walk the red planet. And Saturday, this mega machine dubbed "Curiosity" will launch to Mars, taking with it a key component built right here at Goddard Space Center in Maryland.

"This is the most complex instrument that has ever flown to another planet," explained Melissa Trainer, a research space scientist.

Trainer is talking about the Sample Analysis at Mars Instrument or SAM. SAM is a set of tools on Curiosity that will collect samples of the Martian atmosphere and surface and send that data to scientists.

"That's going to be a huge step in Mars' history and whether or not it could have ever supported life," Trainer said.

It will take eight months for curiosity to travel to Mars, and then seven minutes for it to land. But that landing itself will have scientists on pins and needles because it's the first of its kind for NASA.

"It's of course the most tense seven minutes that I will have personally," Florence Tam, SAM lead engineer, said.

Tam will anxiously be watching as the rover lands on Mars. Unlike its predecessors, Curiosity is to heavy for air bags so instead a rocket powered sky crane will be used. Tam is confident the crane will work.

"They have done their jobs and that work will show," Tam said.

Despite all the hard work and billions of dollars at stake, those who made this mission happen aren't as worried as they are excited.

"Go Mars! Mars or bust!" Tam exclaimed.

Curiosity is designed to last for one Martian year which is equal to two Earth years. Curiosity is said to have cost 2.5 billion dollars and weighs almost a ton.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.