NASA's Next Mars Rover 'Curiosity' to Land at Gale Crater

Science Crater Gale Mars

The vehicle-sized Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to kick off late this year and land in August 2012. The focus on crater spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and retains a mountain soaring larger from the crater floor than Mount Rainier rises previously mentioned Seattle. Gale is about the combined region of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Layering in the mound suggests it is the surviving remnant of an extensive sequence of deposits. The crater is named for Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale.

"Mars is firmly in our sights," stated NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Curiosity not only will return a wealth of critical science knowledge, but it will serve as a precursor mission for human exploration to the Red Planet."

Throughout a prime mission enduring one Martian year -- nearly two Earth years -- researchers will use the rover's instruments to review regardless of whether the landing region had favorable environmental conditions for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life ever before existed.

"Experts discovered Gale as their best selection to go after the ambitious goals of this new rover mission," stated Jim Green, director for the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The site provides a visually spectacular landscape and also great prospective for important science findings."

In 2006, a lot more than 100 experts began to take into account about thirty possible landing web sites for the duration of throughout the world workshops. Four candidates had been picked in 2008. An abundance of specific photos enabled complete analysis of the basic safety concerns and scientific points of interest of each site. A crew of senior NASA science officers then performed a detailed critique and unanimously agreed to move forward with the MSL Science Team's recommendation. The team is comprised of a host of principal and co-investigators on the project ( via ).

MORE: NASA's Curiosity Beams Back a 360 Degree Color Image of Gale Crater

MORE: Which Planet is This? A Gale Crater Doppelganger... on Earth!