Researchers contemplate what the Curiosity rover will encounter on Mars

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Abstract

In anticipation of the eagerly awaited landing of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory on that planet's Gale Crater this August, planetary scientists are continuing to evaluate the various terrains the spacecraft's main payload—the car-sized Curiosity rover—might encounter as it gathers data on Mars's geology and climate while searching the landscape for signs of life. Scientists are conducting detailed investigations of Gale Crater's regional geologic context, interior dune fields, mineralogy, sediments, and surface roughness based on data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO, launched in 2005), the Mars Odyssey satellite (launched in 2001), and other missions. Several researchers summarized their findings in the session “Roving on Mars: Current and Future Sites,” held on 21 March during the 43rd annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Tex.