The anticipated Mars landing on Jan. 24 of the Opportunity rover will be a bit more challenging than the Spirits bounce onto the red planet earlier this month, according to a University at Buffalo geologist, but if its successful, then scientists will be able to be much bolder about selecting future Mars landing sites.
Apollinaris Patera, a volcano on the surface of Mars, could be a future landing site, says a UB planetary volcanologist, if the airbag technology proves as successful with "Opportunity" as it has been with "Spirit."
"If both of these landers survive with airbag technology, then it blows the doors wide open for future Mars landing sites with far more interesting terrain," said Tracy Gregg, Ph.D., University at Buffalo assistant professor of geology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences and a planetary volcanologist.
Gregg, who headed a national conference at UB in 1999 regarding the selection of future Mars landing sites, is chair of the geologic mapping standards committee of the NASA Planetary Cartography Working Group.
Ellen Goldbaum | University at Buffalo
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