Next Mars landing site narrowed down to four possible locations

Artist's conception of the InSight lander on Mars. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Artist’s conception of the InSight lander on Mars. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The¬†potential landing site¬†for NASA’s next¬†Mars¬†mission,¬†InSight, has now been narrowed down to four locations. All four are close to each other in the Elysium Planitia region, a large plain near the Martian equator. The four locations were narrowed down from an initial list of 22 candidates.

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Curiosity rover completes first year on Mars

View from Curiosity on sol 343 looking towards some of the foothills of Mount Sharp in the distance. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
View from Curiosity on sol 343 looking towards some of the foothills of Mount Sharp in the distance. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity rover has successfully finished its first full year on Mars it was announced yesterday, with already some amazing discoveries and a ton of scientific data to show for it. Late in the evening on August 5, 2012 PT (August 6, 2012 ET), Curiosity descended to the ground via the most complex landing technique ever attempted on Mars, the skycrane. Many things could have gone wrong as the car-sized rover hung from the long tethers during the nail-biting descent, but happily it turned out to be a near-perfect landing.

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Ancient delta is newest evidence for Martian ocean

Topographic map from Mars Global Surveyor showing part of the lowlands region in the northern hemisphere (blue) which is thought to have once been an ocean. Credit: NASA / MOLA
Topographic map from Mars Global Surveyor showing part of the lowlands region in the northern hemisphere (blue) which is thought to have once been an ocean. Credit: NASA / MOLA

Whether or not Mars once had an ocean has been a subject of much debate for many years. There is substantial evidence pointing toward the possibility, but no “smoking gun” yet. Now, a new discovery from scientists at the¬†California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is fueling that debate again – an ancient delta that appears to have emptied into the hypothetical ocean in the northern hemisphere.

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