Six sites chosen for rover landing on MarsNovember 14th, 2007 - 8:20 am ICT by admin
“In a nutshell, MSL is going after the question of habitability on Mars,” said John Grant, a geologist at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Scientists have considered more than 50 possible landing sites for the rover. At a workshop last week in Pasadena, California, they narrowed them down to six. All six sites appear to have clay minerals, which scientists think must have formed in prolonged contact with liquid water.
The six favoured sites are Mawrth Vallis, Nili Fossae, Jezero Crater, Southwest Meridiani, Holden Crater and Terby Crater.
But both Holden and Terby craters, which lie in the southern hemisphere, could turn out to be unsuitable because the rover would arrive during the local winter. As a result, it might have to hibernate during the coldest spells because it couldn’t function properly.
According to Grant, it’s not clear yet how big a problem this would be. “If operations were reduced by 50 per cent, for instance, that would be a real hit,” he said. “But those things are being worked on very hard as we speak and we’ll have a much better sense in the coming couple of months,” he added.
But there might be other problems as well. “Because the ideal site has to be flat and not prone to high winds, the spacecraft can’t land effectively on a very steep incline,” said Grant. “The numbers and sizes of rocks on the surface are also issues. You don’t want the rover to land on a very large rock sticking up a metre above the surface,” he added.
Scientists will spend the next nine months studying images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to find out more about the six sites. Engineers will also examine which sites are safest to land on. In case all the six prime sites turn out to be unsuitable, the teams will also study four other “purgatory” sites.
Scientists expects that another workshop in six to nine months will narrow the landing site down to a certain latitude range, then a single site will be selected by October 2008, a year before launch. (ANI)
- NASA rover reaches rim of the big Martian crater ap - Aug 11, 2011
- NASA to launch new mission to Mars Saturday - Nov 24, 2011
- NASA picks landing site for next Mars probe - Jul 23, 2011
- US rover to scout for Mars' habitability - Nov 27, 2011
- Curiosity sends first 3D images from Mars - Aug 08, 2012
- NASA rover lands on Mars to discover if there was life (Lead) - Aug 06, 2012
- Three more missions to Mars planned - Nov 24, 2011
- Evidence of 4bn-years-old life may be preserved in Martian rocks - Jul 30, 2010
- Curiosity lands on Mars - Aug 06, 2012
- NASA's Mars Orbiter completes 5-yr mark - Mar 10, 2011
- NASA's next Mars rover arrives in Florida - Jun 24, 2011
- I'm safely on Mars, says rover tweet - Aug 06, 2012
- Nuclear-powered US rover launched to probe Mars' habitability - Nov 26, 2011
- Mars Rover Finds Strange Stuff On Crater - Mar 26, 2010
- Scientists choose the three best places to look for life on Mars - Sep 24, 2008
Tags: air and space museum, better sense, charged particles, contact, cosmic rays, high winds, holden, john grant, liquid water, mars reconnaissance orbiter, martian rocks, meridiclay minerals, nasa, national air and space museum, nili, radiation hazard, rocks and soil, scientists, steep incline