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NASA selects Mars rover landing site
Posted: Sat, Jul 23, 2011, 6:38 AM ET (1038 GMT)
Mars Science Laboratory illustration (NASA/JPL) NASA's next Mars rover will land in a large crater that features a mountain the rover will climb, project scientists announced Friday. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), also known as Curiosity, will land in Gale Crater near the planet's equator. The crater, over 150 kilometers in diameter, features a central mountain about five kilometers high that the rover will climb during its mission, allowing the rover to study a variety of terrains. Gale was one of four finalists for the MSL landing site, selected by scientists from a group of 60 candidate sites based on their scientific value and engineering feasibility. Of particular interest at the landing site are clays at the base of the mountain that likely formed in the presence of liquid water and could provide new clues to the planet's early history, including whether the planet once supported life. MSL is scheduled to launch in late November and land at Gale Crater in August 2012.
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