Thursday, March 29, 2012

'Mount Sharp' on Mars Links Geology's Past and Future

'Mount Sharp' Inside Gale Crater, Mars Curiosity, the big rover of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, will land in August 2012 near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS
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March 28, 2012
One particular mountain on Mars, bigger than Colorado's grandest, has been beckoning would-be explorers since it was first sighted from orbit in the 1970s. Scientists have ideas about how it took shape in the middle of ancient Gale Crater and hopes for what evidence it could yield about whether conditions on Mars have favored life.

No mission to Mars dared approach it, though, until NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, which this August will attempt to place its one-ton rover, Curiosity, at the foot of the mountain. The moat of flatter ground between the mountain and the crater rim encircling it makes too small a touchdown target to have been considered safe without precision-landing innovations used by this mission.
MORE: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-090&cid=release_2012-090&msource=12090

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