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09.18.2008

Survivor: Mars

View the seven possible MSL landing sites

The Mars tribe has spoken. After searching far and wide for a landing site that can tell them if Mars was ever livable for microscopic life, the tribe of Mars experts has eliminated dozens of contenders. Only seven survive (labeled in white). In September 2008, three or four will be voted out. By spring of 2009, only one will survive to become the landing site of the Mars Science Laboratory rover.

To persevere, a candidate landing site must win the confidence of two tribal clans. Scientists, the scholars, must be sure the chosen site is the most likely place where life might have had a chance. Engineers, the shipbuilders, must be sure the rover can safely reach the site and drive within it.

The sole survivor will combine a deep love of adventure with due respect for safety. Safe means flat and fairly free of rocks. Challenging generally involves streambeds, rugged terrain, and rocks exposed in steep cliff walls. Sometimes, that difficult terrain is the best candidate for finding evidence of livable conditions.

The survivor site will join six previous winners (labeled in yellow). May the best candidate win.

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