An Atlas V rocket bearing the Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover launches at 10:02 a.m. EST on November 26, 2011 (Photo: NASA/Darrell L. McCall)
Moments later, the Atlas V rocket and MSL clears the launch tower. (Photo: NASA/Bill White)
The Gale Crater, the designated landing site on Mars for the MSL, captured with thermal imaging equipment aboard NASA's Odyssey orbiter (Photo: NASA, JPL-Caltech, ASU)
NASA technicians inspect the underside of the Mars Science Laboratory prior to launch. The curiosity rover can be seen at the top of the photograph (Photo: NASA/Glenn Benson)
Artist's concept of the MSL touching down (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Last January, NASA staff installed the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument into the Curiosity rover. The equipment will perform chemical analysis of Martian materials (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
On Saturday at 10:02 a.m. EST an Atlas V rocket carrying its precious cargo, the Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover, took off successfully from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral. A statement from NASA Project Manager Peter Theisinger confirmed that all had gone according to plan. "The spacecraft is in communication, thermally stable and power positive," he said. "We're on our way to Mars".
Other Images from this Gallery