Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Mars and the Final Four

looking good in the lab, but now where to land and remain in one piece
Pasadena (JPL) Jan 15, 2003
The launch dates for the two Mars Exploration Rovers are getting closer and so is the need to pick a place for them to land. Adventurous travelers might spin a globe and pick a vacation based on whichever spot their finger finds. But scientists and engineers working on NASA's newest rover mission cannot be as casual about landing site choices for the twin rovers that will launch in May and June of this year.

Last week, team members and others from the scientific community met for a final chance to discuss and fine-tune the pros and cons of each of the four landing site contenders.

Images and data from two other NASA spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet -- Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey -- have provided invaluable information on possible landing sites.

"This is a unique period where we have orbital missions that can help us make the selection," said Dr. Matt Golombek, JPL landing site scientist.

"We want to go to sites with terrains that will challenge our minds but not the safety of the rovers."

Since the rovers do not have the luxury of landing on a well-paved runway, JPL geologists and engineers must carefully choose an area without large rocks that could damage the rovers' airbag landing system.

Also, an area that is too densely populated with rocks of any size could prevent the rover from moving freely. Winds in the lower atmosphere are also an important consideration, as are the slopes the airbag-clad lander impact against.

Adequate exposure to the sun is vital for the solar-powered rovers. Geologists have chosen sites near the equator where there is sufficient sunlight. The sites are also relatively free of accumulations of iron-oxide dust particles that can coat solar panels and interfere with the rovers' mobility.

Like the final four in any competition, each of the four Mars candidates is a potential winner.

"Three of the sites, Terra Meridiani, known as the Hematite site, Gusev, and Isidis show evidence for surface processes involving water. These sites appear capable of addressing the science objectives of the rover missions: to determine if water was present on Mars and whether there are conditions favorable to the preservation of evidence for ancient life," said Golombek.

The fourth site, Elysium, appears to contain ancient terrain, which may hold clues to Mars' early climate when conditions may have been wetter.

Over the next several months, geologists and engineers will continue to analyze the viability of each site. The final decision will be made by NASA in April, shortly before the rovers begin their journey to Mars.

Related Links
MERs 2003 Mission Home
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Mars Rover Takes Baby Steps
Pasadena (JPL) Nov 13, 2002
Like any travelers worth their frequent flyer miles, the twin rovers of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission must prepare for a long journey. Unlike airline passengers, however, the rovers won't have an attentive flight crew to tend to their needs.



Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only






Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.