Gusev Crater, the landing site for one of the two Mars Exploration Rovers. The yellow oval shows the target landing zone.
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Mars Rover Landing Sites Selected
News story originally written on April 25, 2003
NASA has chosen two locations on Mars to explore with its Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions. The missions are scheduled for launch in May and June of 2003. They will arrive on Mars in January 2004. The two landing sites the rovers will explore were chosen from a list that originally included 155 locations on the Red Planet.
Scientists are interested in finding locations on Mars that have water or that had water in the past. They believe those places provide the best chance to find signs of life. Both MER landing sites show signs of the presence of water in the past.
The two landing sites are Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum. Gusev Crater may have been filled with a large lake in the past. Meridiani Planum appears to have extensive deposits of the mineral hematite. Hematite deposits often form at hot springs, so the deposits may indicate that water was present at Meridiani Planum at some time.
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