It’s official. The New Mars Rover, Curiosity, will land in the Gale Crater.
We had earlier reported the narrowing down of the possible landing sites of the Mars Rover to just two here. We also reported that unofficial news suggests that the finalised landing spot will be Gale Crater and not Eberswalde Crater. Now, we stand officially vindicated. The announcement was made today i.e. on 22nd July, 2011.
The Gale Crater is a 96 mile wide crater, chosen since it is thought to harbor signs of old water flows. If Mars can support microbial life, this would be the place to find it.
Curiosity will be the largest and the most expensive Mars Rover ever sent. It weighs a ton and costs $2.6 billion. The tentative launch date is 25 November, but that is yet to be confirmed officially.
The Curiosity rover is being seen as a precursor of manned missions to Mars, something that NASA has never attempted during the Space Shuttle Program days. Now that the Space Shuttle Program is over, it aims to concentrate more on deep space exploration, rather than the International Space Station.
Curiosity will be gently airdropped into the Gale Crater, rather than the airbag cushioned freefall release method used in the case of Spirit and Opportunity, the previous Mars Rovers.
We hope to soon know more about the planet that has enthralled humanity for so long. Watch this space for more…