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Photos: Gale Crater on Mars, Curiosity Rover's Landing Site

Daybreak at Gale Crater

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This computer-generated view depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater beginning to catch morning light. Northward is to the left. Gale is the crater with a mound inside it near the center of the image. NASA has selected Gale as the landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. The mission's rover will be placed on the ground in a northern portion of Gale crater in August 2012.

Map of Mars Showing Proposed Landing Sites for Curiosity

NASA

This map of Mars shows all of the more than 60 landing sites proposed for the Mars Science Laboratory (red dots) and the four final candidate sites (blue dots). Discussion by more than 150 scientists over more than five years led to the selection of the four final candidate sites: Eberswalde crater, Gale crater, Holden crater, and Mawrth Vallis. Gale eventually was selected as the landing site. The white shaded areas are more than 30 degrees north and south of the equator and off limits to MSL because of seasonally harsh (cold) conditions expected there. The black areas are too high in elevation to be considered for landing.

Lower Portion of Mound Inside Gale Crater

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/UA

This oblique view of the lower mound in Gale crater on Mars shows an area of top scientific interest for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Canyons on Mountain Inside Gale Crater, Annotated

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/UA

This oblique view of Gale crater shows the landing site and the mound of layered rocks that NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will investigate. The landing site is in the smooth area in front of the mound (marked by a yellow ellipse, which is 12.4 miles [20 kilometers] by 15.5 miles [25 kilometers]).

Oblique View of Gale Crater from the Northwest

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/UA

This computer-generated view based on multiple orbital observations shows Mars' Gale crater as if seen from an aircraft northwest of the crater.

Gale Crater: Future Home of Mars Rover Curiosity

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

NASA has selected Gale crater as the landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Gale Crater

NASA/JPL/MSSS

Gale Crater, which is near the Martian equator, offers access to a wide range of rock strata, including sulfates and phyllosilicates in a mountain three miles (5 kilometers) high. Curiosity could probably drive partway up this mountain, checking out layers deposited during wet periods with changing environmental conditions.

Rock Layers in Lower Mound in Gale Crater

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/UA

This oblique view of the lower mound in Gale crater shows layers of rock that preserve a record of environments on Mars.

Curiosity, the Newest Mars Rover

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist's concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Curiosity launched toward the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2011.

Four Finalist Landing Site Candidates for Mars Science Laboratory

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Out of more than 30 sites considered as possible landing targets for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, by November 2008 four of the most intriguing places on Mars rose to the final round of the site-selection process.

Final Testing of NASA's Curiosity Rover at JPL

NASA/JPL

NASA's Curiosity rover is shown here during final testing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It will be shipped to its Florida launch site in late June 2011.

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