_Core Goals of the Mars Exploration Program:
After Landing in August 2012, the Science Phase of the MSL Mission starts at the Gale Crater. This Phase is planned to last for at least one Mars Year (~2 Earth Years), but it can be extended based on vehicle performance.
The overall science goal for this mission is the exploration and quantitative assessment of a chosen region on Mars as potential habitat for life in the past, present and future.
Four primary science objectives will be addressed by the MSL Mission:
1. Determine the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds
2. Inventory the chemical building blocks of life (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur)
3. Identify features that may represent the effects of biological processes
Geological and Geochemical Objectives:
4. Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the martian surface and near-surface geological materials
5. Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils
Planetary Process Objectives:
6. Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) atmospheric evolution processes
7. Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide
Surface Radiation Objective:
8. Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radition, including galactic cosmic radiation, solar proton events, and secondary neutrons