It’s “a Mars scientist's dream machine”: NASA is getting ready to launch its largest-ever Mars rover on Saturday. It’s not just big—it’s “the largest and most complex piece of equipment ever placed on the surface of another planet,” the agency’s Mars boss tells the AP. Curiosity, as the 7-foot-high rover is called, is equipped with a jackhammer and laser arm to break through rocks as it probes Martian soil.
The $2.5 billion machine will attempt to figure out whether Mars has ever been capable of sustaining life. Scientists have found evidence of methane on the planet, and they’re wondering how it got there, the New York Times reports. “I like to say it's extraterrestrial real estate appraisal,” an expert tells Space.com. Officially called the Mars Science Laboratory, the rover will be lowered to the planet’s surface using a crane-like system similar to what may be used in the future to land humans on the Red Planet. Of course, no aliens have been discovered yet, the White House says. (Read more Mars rover stories.)