Get a bird's eye view of Curiosity's landing site on Mars: Gale crater.


[00:00:03]John Grotzinger: I'm John Grotzinger, the project scientist for Mars Science Laboratory--the Curiosity rover
[00:00:08]and we're going to take Curiosity to our chosen landing site in Gale crater,
[00:00:12]which sits at the border between the southern highlands of Mars and the northern lowlands,
[00:00:17]a really exciting spot because it's very low and that's the kind of place where
[00:00:21]water might have pooled and possibly formed lakes.
[00:00:24]So here we see a different view of Gale crater that has a different perspective.
[00:00:28]You can see our landing ellipse down at the bottom, which is the white circle.
[00:00:32]And in the middle of Gale crater is this mountain of rock that is 5 kilometers high,
[00:00:37]made layer by layer by layer. But the layers at the bottom are the ones that we're most interested in,
[00:00:43]because we think that those were deposited in an aqueous environment,
[00:00:46]which is very important for understanding habitability.
[00:00:50]What you can see here now is that we're about to land very close to the center of the landing ellipse,
[00:00:56]and we have a couple of different routes that we can take.
[00:00:59]The scientists on the team prefer the one on the right. And so what we would do is drive along it.
[00:01:06]And now you can see at the base of this mountain where these lower layers are.
[00:01:11]And the layers are important because they allow us to sort of read a geological book.
[00:01:16]You start at the bottom of the mountain and those are the oldest layers. And then the layers that occur
[00:01:21]up near the top, those are the youngest parts, the youngest chapters in the book.
[00:01:29]We will drive along, up to this outcrop that we call "the fence." And when we get there,
[00:01:35]we're going to study it. . It's a really attractive spot for us because it contains the kind of minerals
[00:01:39]that formed in water. And then, when we're done with that, we're going to go beyond.
[00:01:44]And we're going to enter a canyon. And this kind of terrain around here reminds us a lot of Sedona, Arizona.
[00:01:50]And all the rocks around here formed in aqueous environments. And so, there's a lot of rock,
[00:01:55]hundreds of meters of it, layer after layer, that we can study to tell us about
[00:01:59]the history of Mars at Gale crater. Now we cross a boundary and we go into a very different type of rock.
[00:02:06]You can see how it weathers very differently. It's really rugged. So at that point in the mission,
[00:02:10]we'll be beyond our initial mission of two Earth years. This will take us into many years afterwards
[00:02:17]of exploration as we drive around this very rugged terrain. If we make it, we'll be able to look back
[00:02:23]over the area that we have previously studied, back down in towards the bottom of Gale crater,
[00:02:29]back towards our landing ellipse.
View all Videos