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MSL landing sites
babakm
post Apr 7 2007, 01:34 PM
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Although the Meridiani sites will be a "safer" bet and would certainly help advance our knowledge of the processes that led to the hematite deposits, I can't help but think that there are a lot more new/interesting options out there. We can come back to Meridiani a few rovers from now.
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SFJCody
post Apr 7 2007, 01:45 PM
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QUOTE (babakm @ Apr 7 2007, 02:34 PM) *
Although the Meridiani sites will be a "safer" bet and would certainly help advance our knowledge of the processes that led to the hematite deposits, I can't help but think that there are a lot more new/interesting options out there. We can come back to Meridiani a few rovers from now.




Agreed, although I think that the best way of studying Meridiani as a whole would be with large static landers capable of drilling 100+m into the ground.
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centsworth_II
post Apr 7 2007, 03:09 PM
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QUOTE (SFJCody @ Apr 7 2007, 06:16 AM) *
...interesting chemical signatures seen from orbit (Meridiani) are more likely to result
in interesting geology on the surface than interesting morphological features (Gusev)....

It could be argued that the geology of the Columbia Hills is more interesting than
that of Meridiani.

"...composition as well as the variability along the traverse changed dramatically
once the rover reached the base of the Columbia Hills..."

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2006/pdf/2176.pdf

In fact, it would be interesting to see, if the only choices were the Columbia Hills
or Victoria Crater, where most Mars geologists would prefer to send an MSL.
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nprev
post Apr 7 2007, 03:36 PM
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That's a really good argument re "follow the clays", SFJ. Targeting hematite with Oppy certainly yielded findings beyond all expectations almost from Sol 0; minerology does seem to trump morphology in all relevant particulars for a mission like MSL.


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Greg Hullender
post Apr 7 2007, 04:30 PM
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QUOTE (SFJCody @ Apr 7 2007, 06:45 AM) *
. . . I think that the best way of studying Meridiani as a whole would be with large static landers capable of drilling 100+m into the ground.


Strictly speaking, I think that's the best way of studying Meridianai as a hole.

--Greg :-)
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nprev
post Apr 7 2007, 08:05 PM
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Okay, that's the worst pun of the week...you get the virtual prize of 100 quatloos & a cookie... smile.gif


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edstrick
post Apr 8 2007, 07:54 AM
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Considering that a mission requirement for MSL is kilometers, with ?tens? of km planned for post primary misison operations, the overriding secondary requirement for a site is accessible diversity. Yeah, that's a contradiction in terms. The overriding primary requirement is to target geology made of materials of biological and/or origins-of-life significance. There is a preliminary consensus that materials LIKE the phyllosilicate bearing terrains are top candidates.

To a certain extent, Meridiani sulfate dune deposits are "been there, done that", though we would learn much more from a revisit with new instrumentation. But there are other, vastly more complicated, exposures of Meridiani layered deposits, some in spectacular "etched" badlands in the central part and north-east parts of Meridiani Sinus (the old albedo feature.. the split in the Sinus: "Dawes Forked Bay" is actually an Earth-observable patch of high albedo badlands.

Oppy's Meridiani plains are geologically boring on the level of "if you've seen several stratigraphic sections, you've seen them all" Victoria will let us go deeper stratigraphically than Endurance, but all the evidence so far is that it's "more of the same with variations". The landing site was ideal for Opportunity, especially with it's extended treks to Endurance, the etched terrain, Erebus and Victoria, but the MSL rover would probably need to go 100 km or some large amount to get to dramatically different materials, if it was landed in Eagle crater.

Spirit was lucky. The basalt plain on the floor of Gusev was a near-disaster, though we would still have learned far more about martian surficial geology in lava plains than we learned from Vikings and Pathfinder. The pure luck in landing close enough to the uber-diverse geology of the Columbia hills made all the difference in the mission.

A "Best" landing site for MSL will be more like Gusev than Meridiani -- We will go to check out a primary mission objective set of geologic formations and materials, but we will want to have the maximum possible "go to" diversity of geologic materials of diverse geologic ages, once we've checked out and worked over the primary target. The more utterly distinct the accessible terrains, and the more different in ages the materials they can reach, the more transforming MSL will be to what we know of Mars, compared with what we will know from Viking/Pathfiner/MER/Phoenix. Spirit on Gusev lava plains, unable to reach older terrain, would have extended our knowledge. In the hills, it's transforming it.
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djellison
post Apr 8 2007, 08:46 AM
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MSL's a bit open ended really - some of the landing sites include a 10km 'drive to' from a safe landing site nearby.

Doug
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nprev
post Apr 8 2007, 03:14 PM
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Gotta love it...hopefully the 4th generation rovers will get hundreds of kms! smile.gif


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elakdawalla
post May 2 2007, 11:20 PM
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An updated list of MSL sites as seen from MRO, including the May 2 releases:

From the 28 March release:
Proposed MSL Site in Becquerel Crater PSP_001480_2015
Proposed MSL Site in Margaritifer Basin PSP_002193_1670
Proposed MSL Site in Melas Chasma PSP_002551_1700
Proposed MSL Site in Nili Fossae Crater PSP_002743_1985
Proposed MSL Site in NE Syrtis Major PSP_002809_1965
Proposed MSL Site in Elysium/Avernus Colles PSP_002832_1770
Proposed MSL site in Xanthe/Hypanis Vallis PSP_002919_1915

From the 4 April release:
Proposed MSL Site in Southwest Arabia Terra PSP_002812_1855
Proposed MSL Site in Mawrth Vallis PSP_003063_2050
Proposed MSL Site in Nili Fossae Trough PSP_003086_2015

From the 2 May release:
Proposed MSL Site in Eberswalde Crater PSP_003222_1565
Proposed MSL Site in Nilo Syrtis PSP_003231_2095
Proposed MSL Site in Juventae Chasma PSP_003368_1755

--Emily


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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post May 3 2007, 10:04 PM
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For those playing along at home, the MSL Landing Site Selection Userís Guide to Engineering Constraints has been updated slightly (to Version 3). See http://webgis.wr.usgs.gov/msl/Engineering.htm to download.
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tuvas
post May 3 2007, 10:35 PM
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QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ May 3 2007, 03:04 PM) *
For those playing along at home, the MSL Landing Site Selection Userís Guide to Engineering Constraints has been updated slightly (to Version 3). See http://webgis.wr.usgs.gov/msl/Engineering.htm to download.


Wow, no big rocks, but not too much dust either... AFAIK, that's a pretty rare combination anywhere, I guess they want to land it in something akin to gravel... At least, that's what I'm gathering...
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elakdawalla
post May 3 2007, 10:47 PM
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I think something more like "indurated soil" would be best -- that is, something that doesn't move with the wind, but that won't be too hard to dig through.

Has anybody here thought through whether that recent Odyssey THEMIS release about ground ice being patchy has anything to do with MSL landing site selection?

--Emily


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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post May 3 2007, 11:30 PM
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QUOTE (tuvas @ May 3 2007, 12:35 PM) *
Wow, no big rocks, but not too much dust either... AFAIK, that's a pretty rare combination anywhere...

Similar rock abundance and dustiness constraints were in place for MER. And with a much narrower latitude band, and larger landing ellipses, they still had 150+ candidate landing sites at the start of the process.
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stewjack
post May 4 2007, 05:08 PM
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The Riding with Robots Podcast has an interview with Ashwin Vasavada, Jpl's Deputy Project Scientist on MSL.

It's basically a 20 minute summary of MSL's planned capabilities. I learned a few things, but then - I haven't spent a lot of time learning about MSL. wink.gif

Podcast Site
http://web.mac.com/bdunford/iWeb/Riding_wi...st/Podcast.html

Jack
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