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MSL landing sites
tuvas
post Apr 5 2007, 11:27 PM
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As there are some pictures being released from HiRISE of proposed MSL landing sites, I thought I'd give you what little I know about the process. As of the HiRISE team meeting a month ago or so, there were about 40 proposed sites to land MSL. These sites were prioritized, and are being photographed roughly in priority order. Each site requires a picture from each of the 3 main cameras (CTX, CRISM, and HiRISE) in their highest resolution in order to proceed. If it's determined that there can be a safe landing site, as well as interesting science targets, then they will advance to the next level, where I presume they will "wallpaper" the areas with HiRISE and CRISM (CTX, well, they get the whole landing ellipse in one shot, I think...). They likely will also photograph science areas near the proposed sites to look for interesting targets. After that, well, your guess is as good as mine. Note that none of this is official, but it's what I would expect. Also note that the landing site selection is still opened to new suggestions, the ones they have so far are not a complete list. The priority also doesn't mean anything right now other than they are the targets which will be photographed first, these priorities are still subject to change. But, well, I thought I'd send this out there for you all sink your teeth on, it really is quite interesting!
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monitorlizard
post Apr 6 2007, 12:33 AM
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Great to get the inside scoop on the MSL landing site process, tuvas. Do you know if all 40 sites will get high resolution stereo coverage by HiRISE, or is that being saved for the short list later?

The wonderful thing about covering so many sites at such high resolution is that many of the places not chosen for MSL will come up again as proposals for Exo-Mars, the astrobiology rover, etc. This data set will be valuable WAY into the future.
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nprev
post Apr 6 2007, 04:02 AM
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Tuvas, are you allowed to post the locations of any (or all! smile.gif ) of the 40? Please don't do so if this would violate any of your organization's policies, but I'm sure we'd all be fascinated by this first cut...particularly since sifting through the torrent of MRO data alone is pretty much impossible unless you're rich enough to have a few score RAIDs & associated processing capability...


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mcaplinger
post Apr 6 2007, 04:08 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Apr 5 2007, 09:02 PM) *
Tuvas, are you allowed to post the locations of any (or all! smile.gif ) of the 40?

http://themis.asu.edu/landingsites/


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Pavel
post Apr 6 2007, 04:08 AM
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I remember one of the requirement was that the landing site would be inhospitable to life, so that the lander doesn't introduce some microorganisms to a place where they could survive. Any astrobiological missions would probably go a place where some present microbial life is possible, e.g. next to volcanoes or to the bottom of Vallis Marineris.
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djellison
post Apr 6 2007, 08:29 AM
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The complete process is fully documented here
http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/...op/program.html



First Landing Site Workshop
May 31 through June 2, 2006, Pasadena, California Doug
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Phil Stooke
post Apr 6 2007, 11:38 AM
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33 sites were shortlisted from about 90 suggested at the first meeting. Three more were just added after being described in a poster at LPSC, and all can be seen illustrated at the THEMIS MSL landing site support page:

http://themis.asu.edu/landingsites/

Phil


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tuvas
post Apr 6 2007, 05:07 PM
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QUOTE (monitorlizard @ Apr 5 2007, 05:33 PM) *
Great to get the inside scoop on the MSL landing site process, tuvas. Do you know if all 40 sites will get high resolution stereo coverage by HiRISE, or is that being saved for the short list later?

The wonderful thing about covering so many sites at such high resolution is that many of the places not chosen for MSL will come up again as proposals for Exo-Mars, the astrobiology rover, etc. This data set will be valuable WAY into the future.


I think HiRISE Stereo will be saved for the short list of targets. Most of the landings sites for MSL are chosen in relatively bland areas, for instance, the Marwth Vallis landing site is relatively close, but definitely not, the same as the first HiRISE transition phase image location. That area is absolutely amazing, but unfortunately not an area that one would try to land a rover... But it is a possibility to go after landing. I'm almost afraid some of the sites are going to have some bitter fights as to where to go first/next, due to the fact that MSL can actually land next to some very cool stuff, whereas the rovers had to land in relatively flat areas. MSL can actually move outside of it's projected landing ellipse, very much a plus!
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elakdawalla
post Apr 6 2007, 05:19 PM
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Since HiROC doesn't have a handy index to landing site imagery like ASU does for Odyssey, perhaps it'd be useful to post links here to the proposed MSL site images as they get released at HiROC.

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

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tuvas
post Apr 6 2007, 05:37 PM
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QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Apr 6 2007, 10:19 AM) *
Since HiROC doesn't have a handy index to landing site imagery like ASU does for Odyssey


Just wait, it's coming... Sometime relatively soon, meaning the next two months, there's going to be a site redesign that'll make it easier to find images, along with reprocessing of the images to improve calibration, etc. But for now, it can be useful to have such a cheat sheet.
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lyford
post Apr 6 2007, 05:50 PM
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Wow - thanks Emily - this is incredibly helpful - YOU ROCK!*

Quite a bit of diversity in those pics, but I always have a soft spot for Melas Chasma. Now, whether Melas has a soft spot for MSL to land remains to be seen - unsure.gif Given a landing ellipse of 10km, are we confident with the skycrane steering clear to level terrain in that frame?


*Sorry, my 80's were showing.


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algorimancer
post Apr 6 2007, 06:54 PM
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I vote for the Hellas location. Lowest point on Mars, highest atmospheric pressure, layered deposits, channels, and generally unlike any other place visited thus far. Good stuff.
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nprev
post Apr 6 2007, 10:45 PM
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Me too; seems like that's where MSL might have the best chance of finding small, isolated patches of no-kidding mud at certain times of the year! Plus, I'd imagine that the denser air might reduce terminal EDL risks at least a bit.


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Greg Hullender
post Apr 7 2007, 03:50 AM
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Just as long as there's no actual risk of it getting stuck in the mud.

--Greg :-)
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SFJCody
post Apr 7 2007, 10:16 AM
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Surely one of the most important lessons from MER is that interesting chemical signatures seen from orbit (Meridiani) are more likely to result in interesting geology on the surface than interesting morphological features (Gusev). As they only have one MSL I hope they go for a phyllosilicate site.
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