At twice the length and five times the weight of any of its predecessors, Curiosity is the brawniest and best-equipped rover ever sent to another planet. A plutonium-powered thermoelectric generator will give the SUV-size six-wheeler an anticipated life span of some 700 Earth-days, about eight times as long as its solar-powered predecessors were expected to last. Curiosity will cover up to 660 rugged feet a day, carrying a payload of scientific instruments 10 times as heavy as that of previous rovers. Among other things, it will be able to vaporize rocks using a laser, analyze the resulting gases, and bring the most interesting specimens on board for further study. Curiosity is set to launch in November and to arrive next August in the Gale Crater.