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Jun 4 / Dave Schumaker

Martian Geology – Naming, Rovers, and Landing Sites

Columbia Hills, Eagle Crater, Bounce Rock. Have you ever wondered how scientists in charge of the various Mars Exploration Rovers mission come up with the unique and sometimes goofy names they assign to rock outcrops and other geographical features? Popular Science tackled this question back in November, though I just now discovered the article while searching for other Mars related geology items. It’s an interesting article that talks about the International Astronomical Union’s guidelines and how NASA has also had to makeup their own guidelines as they went along.

In current Mars related news: According to the mission status report for May 30, Opportunity is currently stuck in a sand in a dune field. This comes just over a year after being stuck in a patch of sand back in April of 2005, where the rover was immobilized for five weeks while engineers figured out how to get the rover out. Here’s to hoping they get her out soon! Meanwhile, Spirit is currently parked on top of the Columbia Hills for the Martian winter, absorbing as much sunlight as possible and waiting until more optimal energy conditions are present before it moves again.

Lastly, the Mars Science Laboratory (NASA’s newest Mars lander) will launch in 2009. Scientists are currently looking for geologically interesting areas on Mars and hope to have a site selected by 2008.

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