An area inside Gale crater was selected as the landing site for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. The landing of the mission's rover, Curiosity, will occur on an alluvial fan near the northern wall of the crater, and the rover will traverse to a thick stack of layered rocks to the south.
The left panel shows the regional context of the Gale target landing ellipse with colors representing the elevation of the surface features (purple lowest and red highest). The yellow box indicates the location of the feature shown in the center panel. The white box indicates the location of the feature shown in the right panel. The scale bars in each panel indicate distance in kilometers.
The middle panel shows an example of a high priority science target for exploration near the ellipse, and the right column shows science targets within the ellipse. Gale and each of the three other finalist landing sites display a variety of very interesting targets for exploration within and outside of the proposed landing ellipse.
The images in the middle and right panels are from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the High Resolution Science Imaging Experiment. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Science Laboratory and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.