PASADENA (AP) — NASA engineers are putting the finishing touches on the next rover to Mars before shipping it off to Florida for launch later this year.

A small army of technicians dressed in protective bunny suits has been working almost nonstop inside a clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory assembling Curiosity and testing its science instruments.

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The size of a small SUV, Curiosity will drive around Mars and study whether the planet ever had the right environment to support primitive life.

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The mission was supposed to launch in 2009, but technical setbacks and soaring costs forced a two-year delay.

NASA will begin shipping spacecraft parts to Cape Canaveral beginning next month. The $2.5 billion project is scheduled to launch in late November.

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