Mars CuriosityThis isn’t the plot of a movie, or even Science Fiction: NASA’s Curiosity rover is locked and loaded, and ready to start vaporizing the very planet it landed on earlier this month. According to, the 1-ton robot is set to zap a Martian rock on Saturday with its on-board laser —  a step toward determining “whether the environment [is] favorable for microbial life.”

Once the laser test is complete, NASA then plans to drive Curiosity 1,300 feet east, a trip that will take a month or two depending on how much sight seeing scientists do along the way. The short trip, however, is merely a small step toward trekking to the base of the 3.4-mile-high Mount Sharp.

“Mars-orbiting spacecraft have spotted evidence of clays and sulfates in Mount Sharp’s lower reaches, suggesting the area was exposed to liquid water long ago,” wrote.

Researchers are still conducting checks and balances, but so far everything is looking good. The plan is to keep Curiosity on Mars for at least two years, giving the rover plenty of time to vaporize, prod and probe the Red Planet for signs of life — or what’s left of it.

[via Space]