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The Mars Pathfinder Landing Site: Ares Vallis
 
pathland.jpg
new_landing.jpg The Pathfinder landing site is marked with an X in these images.  You can see Ares Vallis and Tiu Vallis, which are believed to be ancient flood channels.
 
This landing site was chosen for a few reasons.  It had to fit several engineering qualifications -- being flat and low in elevation meant that it was a safe landing site.  It's position also meant that the solar panels would be well supplied with sunlight.  The area was also a good site for geologists to explore, since its features and geomorphology are the result of catastrophic floods.  Some of the biggest and most interesting questions about Mars involve the role that water has played in its history.
After the July 4th, 1997 landing, the science team matched landmarks seen by the IMP to features in the Viking maps of the area, to determine the precise landing site.  In the image below, the images from above (the base image and the upper right image) are Viking images of the site.  The other images, of individual features, are IMP images.
landing_site.jpg
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