Mapping Mars: Site Selection Mapping for Spirit & Opportunity

By Joe Francica

Mapping Mars: The Site Selection Challenges for the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER)
An Interview with NASA Principal Scientist, Dr. Matt Golombek

If you were watching CNN during the landing of the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) in January, you might have seen anchorman Miles O'Brien joined by NASA Principal Scientist, Dr.Matt Golombek.Dr.Golombek led site selection team of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.Dr. Golombek was responsible for choosing the two landing sites of each rover and has been selected as the science team chief for long term planning during surface mission operations of the rovers.In the following audio interview, Dr.Golombek explains the process of using remotely sensed data to map the landing sites.

Dr. Golombek was also the chief scientist for the Mars Pathfinder Mission, which successfully landed the Sojourner rover on Mars on July 4, 1997. As Project Scientist, Dr.Golombek chose the landing site for the spacecraft and was responsible for the overall scientific content of the mission.Dr. Golombek's research focuses on Mars geology in general and the prediction of surface characteristics at a lander scale from orbital remotely sensed data.In his career, he has worked on a variety topics related to the structural geology and tectonics to the Earth, terrestrial planets and outer planet satellites.Dr.Golombek has published over 80 Papers in Scientific Journals and 230 abstracts.He is a graduate of Rutgers University where he received his BA.He also holds a masters and PH.D.from the university of Massachusetts.

We hope you will enjoy this exclusive broadcast interview with Dr.Golombek by fellow Rutgers Geology alumnus, Editor Joe Francica.Click on the icon below to listen (For broadband users, the download may take 60-90 seconds):


Other resources on mapping mars and the Mars Exploration Rover mission:

Dr.Matt Golombek's Biography
http://zipcodemars.jpl.nasa.gov/bio-contribution.cfm?bid=238&cid=222&pid=223

Golombek Presentation on MER landing sites
http://webgis.wr.usgs.gov/mer/March_2002_presentations/Golombek/Golombek_MER_Ellipse_Changes.pdf

Mars Rover Animation
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/video/animation.html

The Challenges of Getting to Mars
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/video/challenges.html

Mars Digital Map
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/moc_atlas/

Global Views of Mars
http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/global/


Spirit & Opportunity Information (Information and Images Courtesy of JPL/NASA)


Spirit Mission

Launch vehicle: Delta II 7925
Launch: June 10, 2003, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Earth-Mars distance at launch: 103 million kilometers (64 million miles)
Mars landing: Jan.4, 2004, at about 2:30 p.m. local Mars time (signal received at Earth 8:35 p.m.PST Jan.3)
Landing site: Gusev Crater, possible former lake in giant impact crater
Earth-Mars distance on landing day: 170.2 million kilometers (105.7 million miles)
One-way speed-of-light time Mars-to-Earth on landing day: 9.46 minutes
Total distance traveled Earth to Mars (approximate): 487 million kilometers (303 million miles)
Near-surface atmospheric temperature at landing site: -100 C (-148 F) to 0 C (32 F)
Primary mission: 90 Mars days, or "sols" (equivalent to 92 Earth days)

Opportunity Mission

Launch vehicle: Delta II 7925H (larger solid-fuel boosters than 7925)
Launch: July 7, 2003, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Earth-Mars distance at launch: 78 million kilometers (48 million miles)
Mars landing: Jan.25, 2004, at about 115 p.m. local Mars time (signal received at Earth 905 p.m.PST Jan.24)
Landing site: Meridiani Planum, where mineral deposits suggest wet past
Earth-Mars distance on landing day: 198.7 million kilometers (123.5 million miles)
One-way speed-of-light time Mars-to-Earth on landing day: 11 minutes
Total distance traveled Earth to Mars (approximate): 456 million kilometers (283 million miles)
Near-surface atmospheric temperature at landing site: -100 C (-148 F) to 0 C (32 F)
Primary mission: 90 Mars days, or "sols" (equivalent to 92 Earth days)



Published Friday, February 20th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica



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