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MSL landing site: Gale Crater
elakdawalla
post Jun 23 2011, 05:13 AM
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Gale Crater on target to become next Mars landing site


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brellis
post Jun 23 2011, 05:21 AM
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Looks like Gusev. How does it compare?
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djellison
post Jun 23 2011, 05:29 AM
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Totally different. A central peak that exposes 5km of layered rock, for starters. A delta in the landing ellipse.

Ryan et.al. have by far the best analysis and study of the place.

http://martianchronicles.wordpress.com/201...aper-published/

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ElkGroveDan
post Jun 23 2011, 05:52 AM
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...and here's a little mind-blowing 3D animation flyover that Doug put together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh_bfrl9wk0

not to mention this one that our friend MARS3D did:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq0Z3cKJaGQ


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vjkane
post Jun 23 2011, 06:02 AM
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I had been hoping for Mawrth Vallis, since it appears to be the oldest, and the mineralogy seems clearest (at least to this non-geologist). Any of the sites would be great for science, though, and Gale would probably be the most scenic.

The Nature article talks about the sedimentologists, who favored the three crater sites, and the mineralogists who favored Mawrth. Perhaps the 2018 rover, will visit a mineralogy site. I think Mawrth may be too far north for that mission, but there are other interesting sites being considered. If MSL strikes organics at Gale, we may get two rovers to the same location.


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djellison
post Jun 23 2011, 06:10 AM
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A longer animation involving more data from HRSC/CTX/HiRISE - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvXHu-U02UE
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elakdawalla
post Jun 23 2011, 06:38 AM
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Although it appears to be about mineralogists vs geomorphologists all over again, this time there is abundant evidence that the geomorphologically interesting site of Gale also includes interesting mineralogy.


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ngunn
post Jun 23 2011, 07:09 AM
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Very nice, Doug. Is that with or without vertical stretch?

I was surprised by this from the Nature article:

"Mawrth Vallis has been ruled out, even as they acknowledge that its lack of scenic vistas important in drawing the public into a mission could be a major failing."

That's quite a strong statement. Did this really carry any weight in the selection process? If so, it would be saying a lot about the public impact the MERs have achieved. That's something to cheer certainly, but at the same time it's rather sobering. Much as I love the vistas, I find myself wondering how far I'd want planetary exploration to move in the direction of crowd pleasing.
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djellison
post Jun 23 2011, 07:17 AM
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QUOTE (ngunn @ Jun 23 2011, 12:09 AM) *
Is that with or without vertical stretch?

Without.


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Did this really carry any weight in the selection process?


The conclusion of the 5th landing site meeting was this - ALL the sites were scientifically interesting and all met the engineering requirements. There was no scientific consensus that puts one above the other. So - did aesthetics play into it? They were certainly mentioned at the landing site meeting - and all other things being equal, I don't know why they shouldn't. If you have four safe, interesting landing sites that the science community can't choose between, then why not go to the most spectacular one?

One good side-effect of Gale - it's a very very low landing site. This could offer lots of spare time margin for EDL.
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AndyG
post Jun 23 2011, 10:23 AM
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QUOTE (ngunn @ Jun 23 2011, 08:09 AM) *
Much as I love the vistas, I find myself wondering how far I'd want planetary exploration to move in the direction of crowd pleasing.


Science obviously has to come first - but I personally found the Phoenix "vistas" utterly soulless. Flat arctic, as far as the camera could see. With a nod to The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, it really was "grim up north".

Andy
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antipode
post Jun 23 2011, 12:19 PM
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Fair enough, but just about everything else about the Phoenix mission was absolutely fascinating AND important. Although I too was disappointed with the terrain, I wouldnt want to exchange a visible mesa or two for everything else that mission gave us.

Plus - if it had been a rover, really interesting terrain would have been within a reasonable traverse anyway.

p
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vjkane
post Jun 23 2011, 12:22 PM
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QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Jun 22 2011, 10:38 PM) *
Although it appears to be about mineralogists vs geomorphologists all over again, this time there is abundant evidence that the geomorphologically interesting site of Gale also includes interesting mineralogy.

All four sites have abundantly interesting mineralogy. I believe the difference is that with Mawrth, it was more obvious that the clays, etc. were formed in place. The concern I read about the other sites was that the minerals may have been carried in and may not represent substantial deposits. However, I'm not a geologist! So these thoughts really should be read as a question. Any geologists care to comment on whether this is actually a concern?

However, my real reason for favoring Mawrth was that it was the oldest of the sites, and sites like it may be the only records of the earliest processes on a world with a (then) significant atmosphere and available water. The world's experts on these issues also knew this, and went with a different site, so this was not a compelling argument. So Gale it apparently will be.


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centsworth_II
post Jun 23 2011, 12:44 PM
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QUOTE (vjkane @ Jun 23 2011, 07:22 AM) *
...So Gale it apparently will be.
Or not. From the same article:
"The scientists' endorsement of Gale Crater does not ensure that it will be selected by NASA management. Another site, Eberswalde Crater, which contains a relic river delta and — perhaps — buried evidence of organics in the lakebed deposits into which the river flowed, was ranked a very close second."
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Juramike
post Jun 23 2011, 01:24 PM
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Eberswalde is still my favorite. It has the advantage of having the whole drainage network pretty much defined. So you know how much stuff washed out and where it washed out from.

That's a neat little tidy package that would remove one unknown from the system. (Thus avoiding the "Where the heck did this come from?" question)


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djellison
post Jun 23 2011, 01:44 PM
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QUOTE (Juramike @ Jun 23 2011, 06:24 AM) *
. It has the advantage


Clearly not an advantage, or it would have risen above the other sites on scientific merit.
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