Mars landing site choices and unusual surface features

Author(s): Horace Crater, Stan V. McDaniel, James Erjavec, Harry Moore

Until now Mars probes have been controlled by onboard software and radio communication with Earth. The main focus of interest has been the geological character of the planet. The next step may be landing a human crew, whose observations will go beyond questions of geology. Observers on the ground will seek to determine whether life in any form exists on the planet today, or has existed in the past. Of primary importance would be the selection of landing areas optimizing this goal. Such areas would certainly be those bearing an indication of water or a past shoreline. Here we consider the value of selecting such an area which is also the site of surface features of particular interest, in conjunction with which past or present signs of living organisms would lend significant extra interest.

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