QUOTE (MahFL @ Jul 3 2012, 03:06 AM)
So, Paolo, how does the terrain look for driving in Gale crater ?
Mostly benign, the plains near Mt Sharp (or Palus, whatever it is called) are pretty flat, good driving terrain, there are lots of small mesas with scarps we probably want to avoid. There are some rocks, but not as rocky as Eberswalde would have been. Once we get to the mound where the clays are, we should be able to climb up following a few "narrow" valleys. There the terrain is steeper, with some dunes going across these valleys and scree near the base of the steeper faces. This will present some challenges for driving but I can't wait to try.
I assume all of you have seen you can download all of the HiRISE images at Gale, including all the DTMs (http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/dtm/). Compute the slopes from the DTMs and apply a slope threshold similar to what MER can climb and you get a rough idea of where we can go.
There is a long paper on MSL landing site selection that is being published that includes besides all the scientific selection criteria, details of how I have done the traversability analysis: Golombek, M., et al., 2012, Selection of the Mars Science Laboratory landing site: Space Science Reviews, in press, June 2011.