NASA Launches Mars Rover Curiosity

The world's biggest extraterrestrial explorer, NASA's Curiosity rover, rocketed toward Mars on Saturday on a search for evidence that the red planet might once have been home to itsy-bitsy life.

Seven years in the making and fraught by cost over-runs that caused its original price tag to double to £1.6 billion, Curiosity - the most powerful, capable and complex planetary rover ever built - is to spend almost two years assessing whether the environment of Earth's nearest neighbour once was, and may still be, conducive to habitation.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which includes the car-sized rover known as Curiosity, successfully launched from Cape Canaveral this morning and is now headed toward the Red Planet.