A science-fiction dream is about to become reality, if on a pretty small scale. The Mars rover Curiosity, which landed on the Red Planet earlier this month, has been undergoing a series of checkups before it begins its real work, and later tonight is scheduled to test its laser by burning a hole in a small rock. Next week, engineers will take Curiosity for a short drive before it goes on its first real mission: driving 1,300 feet to a spot with varied terrain and ending up at the foot of a mountain by year's end in search of evidence of microbial aliens.
Infinity and Beyond! NASA / JPL-Caltech via Getty Images