So, in a weird that they didn't just tell us about this, kind of way. A NASA team was discovered in the middle of the desert in California doing what looks like a video shoot of their newest rover on Mars. But fret not, this isn't the start of a new conspiracy to fool everyone into thinking that we aren't really sending probes to Mars.
This is what NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in charge of the Curiosity mission had to say about the scarecrow that was seen:
"Team members of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission took a test rover to Dumont Dunes in California's Mojave Desert this week to improve knowledge of the best way to operate a similar rover, Curiosity, currently flying to Mars for an August landing. The test rover that they put through paces on various sandy slopes has a full-scale version of Curiosity's mobility system, but it is otherwise stripped down so that it weighs about the same on Earth as Curiosity will weigh in the lesser gravity of Mars. Information collected in these tests on windward and downwind portions of dunes will be used by the rover team in making decisions about driving Curiosity on dunes near a mountain in the center of Gale Crater."
It is called "Scarecrow" because it lacks the sophisticated computer brain that the Curiosity has. The lightened practice runabout also doesn't have Curiosity's rock-melting high powered laser or its nuclear power plant either. Also the real "Curiosity" lifted off aboard an Atlas V rocket on November 26th of last year. It will get to Mars on August 5th.
Here is look at where the rover is in relation to Mars on it's trip. Nasa updates this graphic constantly so keep up to date by clicking on the picture:
And just in case you were ever wondering how the heck do they land on Mars? Well here is a quick 1 minute video tutorial from the JPL lab: