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Scientists virtually explore the geography of Mars

This is Science Today. University of California, Davis geologist Dawn Sumner, who is part of NASA's Curiosity rover science team, says the rover will next explore the Red Planet's Mount Sharp, which is a large geological formation in the middle of Gale Crater. Sumner is familiar with the geography there because she's already explored Mars, at least virtually.

Sumner:          We do not have a very large planetary program, but what we have is a very special collaboration between geoscientists and computer scientists.

Narrator:        UC Davis' W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in Earth Sciences, or KeckCAVES allowed scientists, prior to Curiosity's Mars landing, to explore environments like Mars in a three-dimensional immersive environment.

Sumner:          UC Davis is a very interesting and special place to be doing this work. I can virtually walk on the surface of Mars, which I'll never physically do, but I can use all of my scientific expertise to interpret those processes and it is a lot of fun.

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