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UC geologist helps choose landing site for Mars rover


Narrator:       This is Science Today. The next Mars rover, called Curiosity, will land in Gale crater near the Martian equator, based on the advice of a geologist at the University of California, Davis.

Sumner:        Looking at Mars is very exciting! I never expected to work on data from another planet. 

Narrator:       Dawn Sumner is co-chair of the landing site working group for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. They are seeking signs of life on the Red Planet and are using sophisticated 3-D software developed by NASA that's based on data from probes in orbit. Sumner selected Gale crater as a landing spot because she found what looks to be a slope in the layers, which is often related to water.

Sumner:        Various people have measured the slope on that layer using traditional technology but it's very hard to pick out those areas very precisely.  In this software, it's easy to see where that slope changes and so you can pick out the points to do the measurements much more accurately.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.