NASA has selected eight proposals to provide
instrumentation and associated science investigations for the
mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, scheduled for
launch in 2009. Proposals selected today were submitted to
NASA in response to an Announcement of Opportunity (AO)
released in April.

The MSL mission, part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program,
will deliver a mobile laboratory to the surface of Mars to
explore a local region as a potential habitat for past or
present life. MSL will operate under its own power. It is
expected to remain active for one Mars year, equal to two
Earth years, after landing.

In addition to the instrumentation selected, MSL will carry a
pulsed neutron source and detector for measuring hydrogen
(including water), provided by the Russian Federal Space
Agency. The project also will include a meteorological
package and an ultraviolet sensor provided by the Spanish
Ministry of Education and Science.

“This mission represents a tremendous leap forward in the
exploration of Mars,” said NASA’s Deputy Associate
Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Dr.
Ghassem Asrar. “MSL is the next logical step beyond the twin
Spirit and Opportunity rovers. It will use a unique set of
analytical tools to study the red planet for over a year and
unveil the past and present conditions for habitability of
Mars,” Asrar said.

“The Mars Science Laboratory is an extremely capable system,
and the selected instruments will bring an analytical
laboratory to the martian surface for the first time since
the Viking Landers over 25 years ago,” said Douglas
McCuistion, Mars Exploration Program director at NASA

The selected proposals will conduct preliminary design
studies to focus on how the instruments can be accommodated
on the mobile platform, completed and delivered consistent
with the mission schedule. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL), Pasadena, Calif., manages the MSL Project for the
Science Mission Directorate.

Selected investigations and principal investigators:

— “Mars Science Laboratory Mast Camera,” Michael Malin,
Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), San Diego, Calif. Mast
Camera will perform multi-spectral, stereo imaging at lengths
ranging from kilometers to centimeters, and can acquire
compressed high-definition video at 10 frames per second
without the use of the rover computer.

— “ChemCam: Laser Induced Remote Sensing for Chemistry and
Micro-Imaging,” Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory,
Los Alamos, N.M. ChemCam will ablate surface coatings from
materials at standoff distances of up to 10 meters and
measure elemental composition of underlying rocks and soils.

— “MAHLI: MArs HandLens Imager for the Mars Science
Laboratory,” Kenneth Edgett, MSSS. MAHLI will image rocks,
soil, frost and ice at resolutions 2.4 times better, and with
a wider field of view, than the Microscopic Imager on the
Mars Exploration Rovers.

— “The Alpha-Particle-X-ray-Spectrometer for Mars Science
Laboratory (APXS),” Ralf Gellert, Max-Planck-Institute for
Chemistry, Mainz, Germany. APXS will determine elemental
abundance of rocks and soil. APXS will be provided by the
Canadian Space Agency.

— “CheMin: An X-ray Diffraction/X-ray Fluorescence
(XRD/XRF) instrument for definitive mineralogical analysis in
the Analytical Laboratory of MSL,” David Blake, NASA’s Ames
Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. CheMin, will identify
and quantify all minerals in complex natural samples such as
basalts, evaporites and soils, one of the principle
objectives of Mars Science Laboratory.

— “Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD),” Donald Hassler,
Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo. RAD will
characterize the broad spectrum of radiation at the surface
of Mars, an essential precursor to human exploration of the
planet. RAD will be funded by the Exploration Systems Mission
Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

— “Mars Descent Imager,” Michael Malin, MSSS. The Mars
Descent Imager will produce high-resolution color-video
imagery of the MSL descent and landing phase, providing
geological context information, as well as allowing for
precise landing-site determination.

— “Sample Analysis at Mars with an integrated suite
consisting of a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, and a
tunable laser spectrometer (SAM),” Paul Mahaffy, NASA’s
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. SAM will perform
mineral and atmospheric analyses, detect a wide range of
organic compounds and perform stable isotope analyses of
organics and noble gases.