This answer to What is the equivalent of Curiosity's “MSL” in the context of Perseverance? What's the official name of the mission? Are the distinctions similar? got me thinking that answers to Where does MSL end and Curiosity begin? explain the difference, but I'm not sure what science the "science laboratory" (the "SL" in MSL) did apart from the rover's work.

Question: Did the Mars Science Laboratory do any science that wasn't done by Curiosity proper?

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    $\begingroup$ My understanding of the name was that the rover itself was a "science lab" because of the things it was able to do in-situ that previous ones couldn't (eg, wet chemistry) $\endgroup$
    – llama
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


There were some instruments attached to the heatshield that took measurements of the atmosphere during the entry, descent, and landing phase. This suite was referred to as MEDLI (MSL EDL Instruments). This was used for gathering data about how the heatshields performed, and what the atmosphere around them was like, during EDL. While instruments measuring how the spacecraft is performing usually aren't considered science instruments, in this case the purpose was to determine how to build better heatshields for use in the Martian atmosphere in the future, so I would say they qualify as science instruments.

As far as I know, all other science instruments that are part of the mission are attached to Curiosity.


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