This Purely Martian Location Was Considered as Landing Site for Curiosity, Lost to Gale

At the time of writing, there are just two active rovers roaming the surface of Mars: the recently arrived Perseverance and the Curiosity old-timer. Various other pieces of human-made equipment, some very recent, like the Zhurong Chinese rover, are scattered around the planet, not doing much at the moment.
Mawrth Vallis region of Mars 6 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL/UArizona
River bed in the Mawrth Vallis region of MarsRiver bed in the Mawrth Vallis region of MarsRiver bed in the Mawrth Vallis region of MarsRiver bed in the Mawrth Vallis region of MarsRiver bed in the Mawrth Vallis region of Mars
Perseverance, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary on Mars, is having fun exploring the planet in a place known as the Jezero Crater (28 miles/45 km wide), in the Isidis Planitia region, north of the equator. The place was chosen because scientists “believe the area was once flooded with water and was home to an ancient river delta,” thus increasing the chances of finding signs of past life.

Curiosity, on the other hand, is doing its thing some 2,300 miles (3,700 km) away, in a place called Gale Crater (96 miles/154 km across). It landed there in August 2012, making it the oldest functioning machine currently on the Red Planet.

As usual when it comes to such missions, NASA didn’t just place a pin somewhere on Mars and said this is it for Curiosity, but had a long list of landing sites to choose from when it was prepping the mission.

The image you see here, a pure visualization of how we humans perceive the Red Planet, was snapped in 2010 by the HiRISE camera and shows a place called Mawrth Vallis.

It was considered as a potential landing site for Curiosity because of the “deposits containing different types of clay minerals” found in the area, which were almost perfect for the profile of the mission.

Like many other locations, it eventually fell out of grace, and NASA decided to land the rover in the Gale Crater, where this summer, if nothing terrible happens to it, the Curiosity will be celebrating its tenth anniversary.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows Mawrth Vallis region of Mars.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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