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The Mars Science Lab will be launched in 2011, arriving at Mars in 2012.  This is a rover the size of a small car which is plutonium powered and will have a design life of 687 Earth days.   It will be able to travel up to 90 meters per hour with a planned speed of 30 meters per hour.    Unlike the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Pathfinder,  the Mars Science lab will not use the inflatable bag technology.   Due to the size of the vehicle it would likely not do well bouncing along the surface.    The MSL will use a new technology that will lower the rover on a tether parachute attached platform.   The rover will be lowered to the surface and released.


The landing site has not been finalized yet, but it has been narrowed down to four likely locations.  They are Eberswalde Crater, Gale Crater, Holden Crater and Mawrth Creter.   The criteria for the ideal landing site are 1) appears to be or have been a habitable environment, 2) meets engineering constraints, 3) allows acceptable navigability for the rover.

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