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NASA to land rover on Mars, with ASU’s help

Sunday could be a big day in the history of space exploration.

NASA is expected to land a rover, called Curiosity, on Mars over the weekend, designed to examine environmental conditions that could support life.

“Although the mission is not really designed to detect life, it’s designed to detect the likelihood the right kind of environmental conditions to support life,” said Kip Hodges, with the Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Explorations.

Hodges said an ASU alumnus will have control of a camera mounted on Curiosity’s arm.

“Probably the most dramatic macro camera that’s on Curiosity as well,” he said. “We have lots of current faculty, students and alumni who are heavily involved with this particular mission.”

Curiosity will be lowered onto Mars by a type of sky crane that acts like a bungee cord, something Hodges said has not been used before on other rover missions.

Hodges said the success of the current mission could put ASU in line for future missions of space exploration.