As of June 2012, the target landing area for Curiosity, the rover of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, is the ellipse marked on this image. The ellipse is about 12 miles long and 4 miles wide (20 kilometers by 7 kilometers).
The site is near the northern flank of Mount Sharp, inside Gale Crater on Mars. This oblique view of Mount Sharp is derived from a combination of elevation and imaging data from three Mars orbiters. The view is looking toward the southeast.
A reduction in the size of the ellipse in June 2012 was based on analysis yielding increasing confidence in the precision capabilities of the mission's system for getting from the top of the Martian atmosphere to the surface. Using the smaller ellipse, the Mars Science Laboratory Project also moved the center of the target closer to the mountain, which holds geological layers that are the prime destination for the rover. Landing will be the evening of Aug. 5, 2012, Pacific Daylight Time (early Aug. 6 Universal Time and Eastern Time).
The image combines elevation data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, image data from the Context Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and color information from Viking Orbiter imagery. There is no vertical exaggeration in the image.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS
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