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Jun 11, 2012 3:35 PM by Natalie Noah

NASA rover on target for August landing on Mars

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- NASA's latest spacecraft to Mars is due to land in August even as engineers are troubleshooting a contamination issue with one of its instruments.

Mission managers said Monday the one-ton rover named Curiosity looks healthy. It is headed for a crater near the Martian equator on a two-year mission to study whether the environment could have been suitable for primitive life.

The mission has been nagged by an issue with the rover's drill that will bore into Martian rocks. Before launch, tests showed that when handled a certain way the drill produced a contaminant that could leak into samples gathered. A team has been studying ways to get around the problem.

Project manager Pete Theisinger says he's confident Curiosity will still achieve all its goals.

© 2012 The Associated Press.

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