Friday, June 02, 2006

Ready, steady, aim.

The next probe being readied for a flight to Mars is the Mars Science Laboratory, due for a launch in 2009. The probe should be a considerable improvement on the two rovers presently at work on Mars, but a landing site has yet to be decided. This weekend, engineers in Pasadena will be meeting for the first of many discussions to shortlist a selection of landing sites. Of course if there is life still clinging to Mars and assuming it is not widespread (as previous missions would seem to indicate), then hitting it is going to be a tall order. A number of areas are likely to fall under the microscope, including the vast Valles Marineris, though there is a balance to be made between interesting sites and the practicality of getting the lander down in one piece.