July 7, 2011

NASA Down To Two Choices For Next Mars Rover Landing Site

NASA said on Wednesday that it has dwindled down the next Mars rover's landing site to two locations.

The two locations for the Mars Science Laboratory landing site are the Eberswalde and Gale craters. 

The Curiosity rover is in preparations for launch sometime during the period of November 25 and December 18, 2011.

According to NASA, Eberswalde crater is a clay-bearing site where a river once flowed into a lake, which could offer a chance to use knowledge that oil industry geologists have accumulated about where in a delta to look for carbon chemistry.

NASA said the other option is the mountain inside Gale crater, which could provide a route for the rover to study a transition from environments that produced clay deposits near the mountain's base to later environments that produced sulfate deposits partway up the slope.

Curiosity will have 10 science instruments on board during its two years of operation to investigate whether the landing area has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

The rover is set to arrive at Mars in August 2012.


Image Caption: Areas within Eberswalde crater (left) and Gale crater (right) are the two finalists for the landing site of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission.


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