Divvying Up Curiosity's Landing Region
The Mars Science Laboratory science team divided up the location where the mission's rover, Curiosity, will land into a series of "quadrangles." This includes the targeted landing ellipse (red) and adjacent areas within Gale Crater. Each quadrangle is 0.025 degrees in latitude by 0.025 degrees in longitude. Because Gale Crater is near the equator, each quadrangle is almost a square with roughly 0.9 miles (1.5 kilometers) on a side.
More than 30 team members mapped the quadrangles, which show great diversity in their geological attributes, including: portions of an alluvial fan (quads 31, 32, 33); layered deposits (quad 50 and many others); dunes composed of dark gray sand (quads 92, 54, 28); the basal-layered deposits of Mount Sharp (quads 118, 107, 83); and buried impact craters (quad 81). Many of these features represent important targets in the search for habitable environments. The background image was obtained by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the orbiter's 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 in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech