News & AnalysisPlanetary Science

How an Alluring Geologic Enigma Won the Mars Rover Sweepstakes

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 508-509
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.508

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To up the odds of finding signs of life on Mars, NASA has chosen mineralogically diverse but mysterious Gale crater as the target for its $2.5 billion Curiosity rover. NASA is sending the Curiosity rover on the first truly astrobiological mission since the 1970s to search for signs that Mars was ever habitable and perhaps inhabited. Planetary scientists are excited to be returning to Mars with the most scientifically capable planetary explorer ever built, but many are also anxious. They are concerned that NASA is sending Curiosity to a site that is shrouded in geologic mystery.