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Potential Landing Site Near Mawrth Vallis
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Potential Landing Site Near Mawrth Vallis

February 14, 2008

Mawrth Vallis contains clay minerals that formed by chemical alteration of rocks by water. It is one of the short list of potential sites that the Mars Science Laboratory rover will land at, and the HiRISE team is working to find a safe place to land in this area.

This observation shows a wide variety of scientifically interesting terrains as well as some potential hazards for landing. The central part of the image is dominated by light-toned materials with curving fractures of many different sizes. These fractures do not have a preferred orientation, indicating that they did not form in response to some regional stress pattern.

Instead, they formed by some more uniform process, possibly the drying of a thick mud deposit or the gradual rebound of the area as the overlying material was eroded away. The scattered mounds and sand dunes may or may not prove to be a danger, but it is reassuring to see that many of the impact craters have been smoothed out with a filling of wind-blown sand.



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