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NASA narrows list of landing sites for 2016 Mars mission
Posted: Thu, Sep 5, 2013, 6:41 AM ET (1041 GMT)
InSight lander illustration (NASA) Four locations in the same region of Mars are finalists as the landing site for NASA's next Mars lander, the agency announced Wednesday. Scientists and engineers involved with the InSight lander mission have picked four locations in Elysium Planitia, a plain in the planet's equatorial regions, as sites for the lander. The best location for the lander, project officials say, is a flat region largely devoid of rocks, which enhances the odds of a safe landing; being near the equator also maximizes the power the spacecraft's solar panels can produce. InSight, selected as a Discovery-class mission last year, will bore several meters into the surface measure heat flow and study the planet's interior. InSight is scheduled to launch in March 2016 and land on Mars six months later.
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