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The first preliminary list of candidate landing sites for NASA’s next Mars rover have been proposed.
At the conclusion of the workshop, attendees voted informally on the nearly 30 candidate sites that researchers had presented—ranking the sites as being of high, medium, or low scientific interest. Floating to the top was a site called Northeast Syrtis Major, a terrain at the edge of the Isidis Basin, the remnant of one of Mars’s biggest and most ancient asteroid impacts. Jack Mustard, a planetary scientist at Brown University and an advocate for the site, says material from the impact could offer a precise date for that event. Scientists also want a piece of nearby lava flows, thought to have oozed out and cooled several hundred million years later.
Nothing is even close to being decided yet, however.
In related news, a new study suggests that dozens of microbes might have stowed away on Curiosity when it left for Mars.
Emphasis must be placed on the word “suggests” however.