Rover ready for Mars landing

A one-ton rover as big as a Mini Cooper will land on Mars this morning to start an investigation into the presence of water and signs of life on the planet.

The six-wheeled robot, Curiosity, was due to land by being dropped from a "sky crane", a new technique. The vehicle will scoop soil and drill and laser rock samples for one Martian year – 98 Earth weeks.

John Bridges, from the University of Leicester, one of two British scientists leading teams on the Nasa mission, said: "I'm cautiously optimistic. Space exploration is not for the faint-hearted."