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  • The larger ellipse in this image represents the target area for MSL's landing prior to early June 2012, when the project revised it to the smaller ellipse centered nearer to the foot of Mount Sharp.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS
06/12/2012 07:00:00

Closing In On Mount Sharp, Mars Rover Gets Narrower Landing Target

Increased confidence in the landing technology aboard the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft has enabled NASA to narrow the ellipse where its newest Mars rover plans to touch down on the Red Planet. Upon landing, at around 10:31 p.m. PDT on August 5, the rover will be much closer than originally planned to the primary science target—a layered mountain called Mount Sharp in honor of the late Caltech geologist Robert Sharp (BS '34, MS '35).

"We're trimming the distance we'll have to drive after landing by almost half," said Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "That could get us to the mountain months earlier."

Click here to read the full NASA release. 

Written by Kimm Fesenmaier