Aeolis Palus

Coordinates: 4°28′S 137°25′E / 4.47°S 137.42°E / -4.47; 137.42
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Aeolis Palus[1]
Topographic Map of Gale Crater.jpg
Map of Gale Crater with Aeolis Mons rising from the middle of the crater. The Curiosity rover landing ellipse is shown on the northwestern crater floor, named Aeolis Palus.[2][3][4]
Coordinates4°28′S 137°25′E / 4.47°S 137.42°E / -4.47; 137.42

Aeolis Palus is a plain between the northern wall of Gale crater and the northern foothills of Aeolis Mons (Mount Sharp) on Mars. It is located at 4°28′S 137°25′E / 4.47°S 137.42°E / -4.47; 137.42.[1]

The NASA Mars Science Laboratory mission landed the Curiosity rover on Aeolis Palus in August 2012. Curiosity spent two (Earth) years exploring the plain as it drove towards Aeolis Mons. The rover left the plain in September 2014 when it reached the mountain's foothills.[5]

Spacecraft exploration[edit]

On August 5, 2012, at 10:32 p.m. PDT/mission time (August 6, 2012, at 5:32 UTC), mission control at JPL received a signal from the NASA Curiosity rover that it had successfully landed in "Yellowknife" Quad 51[6][7][8][9] of Aeolis Palus.[10] The rover's mission is to explore the surface area of Gale Crater focusing first near its landing site on Aeolis Palus and then venturing into the nearby foothills of Aeolis Mons (unofficially, "Mount Sharp") to investigate its geological features and strata.[2][3][4][11]

On September 26, 2013, NASA scientists reported the Mars Curiosity rover detected "abundant, easily accessible" water (1.5 to 3 weight percent) in soil samples at the Rocknest region of Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater.[12][13][14][15][16][17] In addition, NASA reported the rover found two principal soil types: a fine-grained mafic type and a locally derived, coarse-grained felsic type.[14][16][18] The mafic type, similar to other martian soils and martian dust, was associated with hydration of the amorphous phases of the soil.[18] Also, perchlorates, the presence of which may make detection of life-related organic molecules difficult, were found at the Curiosity rover landing site (and earlier at the more polar site of the Phoenix lander) suggesting a "global distribution of these salts".[17] NASA also reported that Jake M rock, a rock encountered by Curiosity on the way to Glenelg, was a mugearite and very similar to terrestrial mugearite rocks.[19]

On December 9, 2013, NASA reported that, based on evidence from Curiosity studying Aeolis Palus, Gale Crater contained an ancient freshwater lake which could have been a hospitable environment for microbial life.[20][21]

On December 16, 2014, NASA reported detecting, based on measurements by the Curiosity rover, an unusual increase, then decrease, in the amounts of methane in the atmosphere of the planet Mars; in addition, organic chemicals were detected in powder drilled from a rock by the Curiosity rover. Also, based on deuterium to hydrogen ratio studies, much of the water at Gale Crater on Mars was found to have been lost during ancient times, before the lakebed in the crater was formed; afterwards, large amounts of water continued to be lost.[22][23][24]

Bradbury Landing[edit]

"Bradbury Landing" is a named location on Aeolis Palus. It is where the Curiosity rover landed.[25][26] The coordinates of the landing site are: 4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / 4.5895°S 137.4417°E / -4.5895; 137.4417.[27][28] The landing site location was named for science fiction author Ray Bradbury.[26] NASA announced the name on Bradbury's 92nd birthday, August 22, in honor of the author who died a few months earlier on June 5, 2012.[26] Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity, said "This was not a difficult choice for the science team. Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars."[26] Bradbury wrote a collection of stories called The Martian Chronicles in the 1940s.[26] The Curiosity team left a message on Twitter "In tribute, I dedicate my landing spot on Mars to you, Ray Bradbury. Greetings from Bradbury Landing!"[26] NASA released a video of Bradbury reading his poem "If Only We Had Taller Been".[29][30]


Evidence of water on Mars in Aeolis Palus[32][33][34]
Peace Vallis and related alluvial fan near the Curiosity rover landing ellipse and landing site (noted by +).
"Hottah" rock outcrop on Mars - an ancient streambed viewed by the Curiosity rover (September 14, 2012). (3-D version.)
"Link" rock outcrop on Mars - compared with a terrestrial fluvial conglomerate - suggesting water "vigorously" flowing in a stream.
Curiosity rover on the way to Glenelg (September 26, 2012).
Curiosity's view of the Rocknest area - South is center/North at both ends; Mount Sharp at SE horizon (somewhat left-of-center); Glenelg at East (left-of-center); rover tracks at West (right-of-center) (November 16, 2012; white balanced) (raw color) (interactives).
Curiosity's view of Aeolis Palus from Rocknest looking eastward toward Point Lake (center) on the way to Glenelg Intrigue (November 26, 2012; white balanced) (raw color).
Curiosity's view of Mars sky at sunset (February 2013; Sun simulated by artist).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b USGS (May 16, 2012). "Three New Names Approved for Features on Mars". USGS. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
  2. ^ a b NASA Staff (March 27, 2012). "'Mount Sharp' on Mars Compared to Three Big Mountains on Earth". NASA. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Agle, D. C. (March 28, 2012). "'Mount Sharp' On Mars Links Geology's Past and Future". NASA. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Staff (March 29, 2012). "NASA's New Mars Rover Will Explore Towering 'Mount Sharp'". Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  5. ^ Chang, Kenneth (September 11, 2014). "After a Two-Year Trek, NASA's Mars Rover Reaches Its Mountain Lab". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  6. ^ NASA Staff (August 10, 2012). "Curiosity's Quad - Image". NASA. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  7. ^ Agle, DC; Webster, Guy; Brown, Dwayne (August 9, 2012). "NASA's Curiosity Beams Back a Color 360 of Gale Crate". NASA. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  8. ^ Amos, Jonathan (August 9, 2012). "Mars rover makes first colour panorama". BBC News. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  9. ^ Halvorson, Todd (August 9, 2012). "Quad 51: Name of Mars base evokes rich parallels on Earth". USA Today. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  10. ^ NASA Staff (August 6, 2012). "NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain". NASA. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  11. ^ NASA Staff (July 2012). "Mars Science Laboratory Landing Press Kit" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  12. ^ Lieberman, Josh (September 26, 2013). "Mars Water Found: Curiosity Rover Uncovers 'Abundant, Easily Accessible' Water In Martian Soil". iSciencetimes. Archived from the original on June 23, 2017. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
  13. ^ Leshin, L. A.; et al. (September 27, 2013). "Volatile, Isotope, and Organic Analysis of Martian Fines with the Mars Curiosity Rover". Science. 341 (6153): 1238937. Bibcode:2013Sci...341E...3L. doi:10.1126/science.1238937. PMID 24072926. S2CID 206549244.
  14. ^ a b Grotzinger, John (September 26, 2013). "Introduction To Special Issue: Analysis of Surface Materials by the Curiosity Mars Rover". Science. 341 (6153): 1475. Bibcode:2013Sci...341.1475G. doi:10.1126/science.1244258. PMID 24072916.
  15. ^ Neal-Jones, Nancy; Zubritsky, Elizabeth; Webster, Guy; Martialay, Mary (September 26, 2013). "Curiosity's SAM Instrument Finds Water and More in Surface Sample". NASA. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  16. ^ a b Webster, Guy; Brown, Dwayne (September 26, 2013). "Science Gains From Diverse Landing Area of Curiosity". NASA. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  17. ^ a b Chang, Kenneth (October 1, 2013). "Hitting Pay Dirt on Mars". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  18. ^ a b Meslin, P.-Y.; et al. (September 26, 2013). "Soil Diversity and Hydration as Observed by ChemCam at Gale Crater, Mars". Science. 341 (6153): 1238670. Bibcode:2013Sci...341E...1M. doi:10.1126/science.1238670. PMID 24072924. S2CID 7418294. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  19. ^ Stolper, E.M.; Baker, M.B.; Newcombe, M.E.; Schmidt, M.E.; Treiman, A.H.; Cousin, A.; Dyar, M.D.; Fisk, M.R.; Gellert, R.; King, P.L.; Leshin, L.; Maurice, S.; McLennan, S.M.; Minitti, M.E.; Perrett, G.; Rowland, S.; Sautter, V.; Wiens, R.C.; MSL ScienceTeam (2013). "The Petrochemistry of Jake_M: A Martian Mugearite" (PDF). Science. AAAS. 341 (6153): 1239463. Bibcode:2013Sci...341E...4S. doi:10.1126/science.1239463. PMID 24072927. S2CID 16515295.
  20. ^ a b Chang, Kenneth (December 9, 2013). "On Mars, an Ancient Lake and Perhaps Life". The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Science - Special Collection - Curiosity Rover on Mars". Science. December 9, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  22. ^ Webster, Guy; Neal-Jones, Nancy; Brown, Dwayne (December 16, 2014). "NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars". NASA. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  23. ^ Chang, Kenneth (December 16, 2014). "'A Great Moment': Rover Finds Clue That Mars May Harbor Life". The New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  24. ^ Mahaffy, P.R.; et al. (December 16, 2014). "Mars Atmosphere - The imprint of atmospheric evolution in the D/H of Hesperian clay minerals on Mars" (PDF). Science. 347 (6220): 412–414. Bibcode:2015Sci...347..412M. doi:10.1126/science.1260291. PMID 25515119. S2CID 37075396.
  25. ^ Brown, Dwayne; Cole, Steve; Webster, Guy; Agle, D.C. (August 22, 2012). "NASA Mars Rover Begins Driving at Bradbury Landing". NASA. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Flood, Alison (August 23, 2012). "Curiosity Martian landing point named after Ray Bradbury". The Guardian. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
  27. ^ MSNBC Staff (August 6, 2012). "Video from rover looks down on Mars during landing". NBC News. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  28. ^ Young, Monica (August 7, 2012). "Watch Curiosity Descend onto Mars". Archived from the original on December 9, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  29. ^ "Curiosity Landing Site Named for Ray Bradbury". NASA. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  30. ^ Jessie Lendennie, ed. (2006). "If Only We Had Taller Been". Daughter and Other Poems. Salmon Publishing. pp. 57–58. ISBN 9781903392102.
  31. ^ Mars Science Laboratory: Multimedia-Images
  32. ^ Brown, Dwayne; Cole, Steve; Webster, Guy; Agle, D.C. (September 27, 2012). "NASA Rover Finds Old Streambed On Martian Surface". NASA. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  33. ^ NASA (September 27, 2012). "NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Old Streambed on Mars - video (51:40)". NASAtelevision. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  34. ^ Chang, Alicia (September 27, 2012). "Mars rover Curiosity finds signs of ancient stream". AP News. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2012.

External links[edit]

Aeolis Palus and Aeolis Mons in Gale Crater: