Gallery: Landing site chosen for new Mars rover Curiosity

Gallery: Landing site chosen for new Mars rover Curiosity

Summary: NASA's projected landing area for Curiosity is in a large crater at the foot of a layered mountain.

TOPICS: Nasa / Space

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  • NASA has selected the Gale crater to be the home base for its new Mars rover Curiosity when it begins its exploration of the Red planet - scheduled for August 2012. According to NASA the crater is about 96 miles in diameter - about the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut.

    More importantly, it contains a mountain that soars higher from the ground than Mount Rainier reaches over Seattle. The mountain contains layers that show a sequence of deposits that indicate water. In additon, the crater "has an alluvial fan likely formed by water-carried sediments" according to NASA.
    Curiosity's primary mission is to search for life signs on Mars and is scheduled to last at least one Martian year or about two Earth years. Curiosity will contain a nuclear battery that will allow it to operate more freely that the original Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

    Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/UA

  • Here's an artist's model of the landing area.

    "One fascination with Gale is that it's a huge crater sitting in a very low-elevation position on Mars, and we all know that water runs downhill," said John Grotzinger, the mission's project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.

    Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Here's an overhead view of the Gale crater.

    Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Topic: Nasa / Space

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  • Can we please make this next one nuclear powered

    so it can heat itself and run day or night for 10 or more years?
    • RE: ...nuclear powered


      From the caption on image #1: <i>Curiosity will contain a <b>nuclear battery</b> that will allow it to operate more freely that the original Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.</i>
  • RE: Gallery: Landing site chosen for new Mars rover Curiosity

    How long do you think it will be before it scouts a location for a Wal-Mart?
    • RE: ...before it scouts a location for a Wal-Mart?


      Good question?!

      But, considering Wally-world's <i>low price</i> mantra; the shipping costs will kill the business model.

      At least on Mars, they will not have to worry about appeasing local governments concerning siting issues!
  • Totally missing the point

    There is an alien figure carved into the mountain. Can't you see it: head; neck; shoulders; arms; legs..... hellooooo
  • RE: Gallery: Landing site chosen for new Mars rover Curiosity

    I can't help but note that, when the scientists associated with Mars rovers are chattering on tv, they consistantly mention the polar regions as most likely to have capability to sustain little green men. I can't speak to the priorities of the program, but isn't a search for life among them?
    The pictured landing site seems to be likely to produce a fairly redundant series of red-tinged photos of pebbles and boulders and not much else. Still, they're the experts....
    • Search for life == search for water (now or long ago)

      The Phoenix Mars Lander was sent to the Northern arctic region of Mars in 2008. It did find some intriguing results, but it is basically far too cold for liquid water to have been present for significant periods of time. If life arose, it would likely have not started there. On the other hand, there may be water under sufficient pressure under the polar caps to liquify, and if life formed on Mars, remnants may have migrated there. Unfortunately, that water is currently too difficult to reach. (It's costing billions of dollars just to send something the size of an SUV to Mars; try to imagine sending an oil-rig.)

      Curiousity is being sent to a place that shows signs of having once had water for a significantly long period of time. If life did exist, it would leave chemical evidence (and hopefully fossils!) in the rocks and soil. What makes the landing location particularly interesting is the deep crater and a large mountain. Rather than try to dig through eons of geologic evidence, some meteorite was able to do all the backbreaking labor for us, digging down and prying up millenia of rock strata, right to the surface where Curiousity can easily get at it.