NASA Announces Mars Landing Site
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Right: Mars Polar Lander's primary landing site at 76 degrees south latitude and 195 degrees west longitude near the martian south pole. The carbon dioxide polar cap is outlined in white. Image credit: Dr. David A. Paige (UCLA). For more information and images see www.MarsPolarLander.com
"We looked for a site with slopes no steeper than 10 degrees," said Project Scientist Dr. Richard Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA. "We chose a location with some surface features but no cliffs or jagged peaks, because the spacecraft will be able to land safely, yet we'll still accomplish our science goals."
December 3: Mars Polar Lander nears touchdown
December 2: What next, Leonids?
November 30: Polar Lander Mission Overview
November 30: Learning how to make a clean sweep in space
"We believe this layered terrain is a record of climate changes on Mars, and in a sense, digging into its surface will be like reading tree rings or layers in an ice core," Zurek said. "The presence of fine layers of dust and ice with varying thickness will indicate changes in weather patterns and layer formation that have been repeated in recent history. In addition, we may find evidence of soil particles that formed in ancient seas on Mars and were later blown into the polar regions."
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"For the next several weeks, we'll study newly transmitted Mars Global Surveyor images," said Flight Team Manager Dr. Sam Thurman at JPL. "If necessary, we can retarget for the backup landing site as late as early October, when the flight team begins preparations for landing."
The Dec. 3 landing occurs toward the end of spring in the Martian Southern Hemisphere. The sun will shine all day, moving higher and lower in the sky but never dipping below the horizon. This nonstop sunshine will power the lander's solar panels for 90 days, until the Martian seasons change and the lander's mission ends.
for lesson plans and activities related to exploration of the planet Mars.
Images of the landing site and additional information about Mars Polar Lander are available at the following Web site: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msp98/lander/
Additional information about Deep Space Two is available at the following Web site: http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds2/
JPL manages Mars Polar Lander and the New Millennium Program for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA. Web Links
MARS POLAR LANDER TO ARRIVE ON SMOOTH, LAYERED TERRAIN - NASA/JPL Press Release
MarsPolarLander.com - A nice overview of Mars Polar Lander and the mission's science themes from UCLA
Mars Global Surveyor - mission home page at NASA/JPL
Unearthing Clues to Martian Fossils -- The hunt for ancient life on Mars is leading scientists to an otherworldly place on Earth called Mono Lake. June 11, 1999 NASA NASA Science News
The Red Planet in 3D -- New data from Mars Global Surveyor reveal the topography of Mars better than many continental regions on Earth. May 27, 1999 NASA NASA Science News
Search for life on Mars will start in Siberia -- Russian and NASA scientists will look for life forms in the inhospitable realm of Siberian permafrost. May 27, 1999 NASA NASA Science News
Stormy weather on Mars -- During the recent close approach of Mars to Earth, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spotted a gigantic storm swirling near the Red Planet's north pole. May 19, 1999 NASA NASA Science News
Mars unveils a magnetic personality -- Plate tectonics on the Red Planet might have important consequences for ancient Martian life. Apr 30, 1999 NASA NASA Science News
Plate tectonics on Mars? -- Magnetic stripes on the surface of Mars are similar to fields in the sea floors of Earth. Apr 29, 1999 NASA NASA Science News
A close encounter with the Red Planet -- Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in 1999. Apr 23, 1999 NASA NASA Science News
A new face on Mars has scientists smiling -- MGS beams back pictures of the "Happy Face Crater". Mar. 12, 1999 NASA NASA Science News
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