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MARS AIRS MONDAYS 9/8c
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When you have an entire planet to explore, how do you decide where to land the rover? There’s no wrong place to start, according to planetary geologist Bethany Ehlmann. Anywhere on the planet, there’s always something new to learn from a rover expedition.
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When you have an entire planet to explore, how do you decide where to land your rover? As it turns out, there’s no wrong place to start, according to planetary geologist and Mars expert Bethany Ehlmann. She helps direct the NASA Mars rover Curiosity, which analyzes the geochemistry of rocks on Mars to learn about the planet’s environment. Whether it touches down in a Martian canyon, former lake, formerly active volcano, or most anywhere on the planet’s surface, there is always something new to learn from a rover expedition. But the landing is a lot tougher to figure out than it looks. Satellites scan and image possible landing locations, and Bethany’s team scrutinizes practically every pixel for rocks or other obstacles that may inhibit safe landing. She answers many important questions: Can we land there? Is it safe? Do we want to land there? Is this the best site for this mission? If the rover lasts longer than expected, where do we go from there to continue the exploration? It isn’t easy to plan a Mars rover landing, but it’s one of the most important tools we have to learn about the history and the possibility of life on the red planet.
SERIES PRODUCER: Chris Mattle
PRODUCERS: Laurence Alexander, Nora Rappaport
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Jared M. Gair
EDITOR: Mónica Pínzón
TIL: Choosing a Mars Landing Spot is Harder Than You Think | Today I learned