Late Sunday night Pacific time, NASA will attempt to land its biggest, most complex and costly robotic rover ever on the planet Mars. The rover is the size of a small car and is equipped with tools to test the soil for ingredients that could support microscopic life. The mission cost $2.5 billion.

AP Science Writer Alicia Chang and a photographer will be staffing the mission from Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A graphic and multimedia also are planned.

NASA expects to receive signals if the landing was successful by about 1:30 a.m. EDT Monday/10:30 p.m. PDT Sunday.

It is uncertain when the first images, which will be black and white, will be released. It's possible none will be available until late Monday.

This comprehensive look at the mission moved previously and is available in AP Exchange http://www.apexchange.com :


PASADENA, Calif. — It's NASA's most ambitious and expensive Mars mission yet — and it begins with the red planet arrival late Sunday of the smartest interplanetary rover ever built. Also the most athletic. Like an Olympic gymnast, it needs to stick the landing. By Science Writer Alicia Chang.

AP photos.


Here are the other advance and spot stories that have moved:

MARS-LINGO — Fascinated by NASA's latest Mars mission and planning to tune in? Well, good luck understanding the space agency's everyday lingo which resembles a sort of Martian alphabet soup. And brush up on your definitions of DSN and Mastcam. By Science Writer Alicia Chang. 530 words. Moving at 3 a.m. EDT/12 a.m. PDT Thursday.



MARS-7 MINUTES — Why NASA calls the Mars landing of its elaborate new rover "seven minutes of terror." 450 words. Moving at noon EDT/9 a.m. PDT.

MARS CURIOSITY — Developing from NASA briefing at 12:30 p.m. EDT/9:30 am. PDT

With these short sidebars:

MARS-TOOLS. 350 words.


These stories will move on the following days:


MARS CURIOSITY — Story laydown expected by early afternoon. Updates are expected through the day. Earliest word of landing success expected around 1:30 a.m. EDT Mon/10:30 p.m. PDT Sun.


MARS CURIOSITY — Update from NASA briefing at noon EDT/9 a.m. PDT. A full recast of the story with a new approach will move later Monday afternoon.


— The AP.