Spacecraft engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory hope to cut the drive time for the “Curiosity” Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover with a smaller landing-ellipse target than originally anticipated, moving the planned “sky crane” touchdown about 4 mi. closer to the base of the mountain where scientists hope to explore layers of sedimentary rock for evidence that a wetter Mars could have supported life. Pete Theisinger, MSL project manager at JPL, said June 11 that the navigation ...

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