This image taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter covers part of a candidate landing site that appears to be a shallow depression with a deposit perhaps consisting of chlorides, like table salt.
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Candidate Landing Site in Possible Salt Playa

This image covers part of a candidate landing site that appears to be a shallow depression with a deposit perhaps consisting of chlorides, like table salt.

The relatively bright material broken up into polygons or other patterns is possibly chloride. Such deposits occur in playas on Earth, and imply the past presence of water and a habitable (but not necessarily inhabited) environment. The HiRISE images will help to interpret the geology and to determine if this spot is a sufficiently safe landing site -- not too many boulders or steep slopes. If it is safe enough, this site will be considered further as a landing site for the 2011 Mars Science Laboratory or for a European or NASA rover to be launched in 2018 according to current plans.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the spacecraft development and integration contractor for the project and built the spacecraft.

Image details

ID#:
PIA12955

Date added:
2010-03-10

Target:
Mars

Mission:
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Spacecraft:
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Instruments:
High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)

Size:
2560 x 1920 pixels (width x height)

Rating:



Views:
2,833

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA12955.tif (14.76 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA12955.jpg (1.1 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona