Scientists: Mars Landing Spot Looks a Lot Like Earth
Scientists think the spot on the Martian equator where the Curiosity rover landed looks familiar, comparing the landscape to California’s Mojave Desert.
“The first impression that you get is how Earth-like this seems looking at that landscape,” chief scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology said.
Curiosity has so far sent back low-resolution pictures and a low-quality video showing the final two and a half minutes of its descent. The rover is expected to send back a 360-degree color view of its location by Thursday, at the earliest.
“It kind of makes you feel at home,” Grotzinger said. “We’re looking at a place that feels really comfortable.”
Despite the familiar landscape, Mars has its obvious differences from Earth: It’s a freezing desert constantly bombarded by radiation, though scientists see signs it was once warmer and less dry.
The $2.5 billion Curiosity mission — the most-expensive ever to Mars — hopes to gain understanding about the planet’s transformation.
Curiosity will poke around for two years, hoping to learn more about whether the Red Plannet could ever support life. Its final destination four miles from its landing spot will be a mountain within the Gale Crater, Mount Sharp, which is believed to contain signs of past water.
But before any of this exploration goes on, Curiosity will undergo a long period of tests, to make sure the rover is in shape to continue its mission.
Does the Mars landing spot’s familiarity give us hope for discovering life on the Red Plannet? Let us know if you’re optimistic about finding life on Mars in the comments.