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Courtesy of NASA/Darrell L. McCall


The Atlantic Ocean provides a backdrop as the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket clears the tower on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Sealed inside the rocket is NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, beginning a 9-month interplanetary cruise to Mars. Liftoff was at 10:02 a.m. EST Nov. 26. MSL’s components include a car-sized rover, Curiosity, which has 10 science instruments designed to search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source.