Bradbury Landing

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Bradbury Landing - the Curiosity Rover Landing Site - viewed by HiRISE (MRO) (August 14, 2012).
The Mars Science Laboratory debris field viewed by HiRISE (MRO) on August 17, 2012. The parachute landed about 615 m (2,018 ft) from the Curiosity Rover.[1] (3-D: rover and parachute)
Curiosity Rover Landing Site -"Yellowknife" Quad 51 (1-mi-by-1-mi) of Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater.
Curiosity Rover Landing Site - "Quad Map" includes "Yellowknife" Quad 51 of Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater.
Map of Gale Crater with Aeolis Mons rising from the middle of the crater. The Curiosity Rover landing ellipse is on the northwestern crater plain, Aeolis Palus.

Bradbury Landing is the August 6, 2012, landing site within Gale crater on planet Mars of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. On August 22, 2012 on what would have been his 92nd birthday, NASA named the site for author Ray Bradbury, who had died on June 5, 2012.[2][3] The coordinates of the landing site on Mars are: 4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / 4.5895°S 137.4417°E / -4.5895; 137.4417Coordinates: 4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / 4.5895°S 137.4417°E / -4.5895; 137.4417.[4][5]

The rover drove away from this specific landing location in the summer of 2012, but because of the nature of landing there is no actual lander there. The track prints and blast marks are slowly blowing away in the Martian wind, as recorded by Mars orbiters.


Gale Crater was the MSL landing site in 2012.[6][7][8] Within Gale Crater is a mountain, named Aeolis Mons ("Mount Sharp"),[9][10][11] of layered rocks, rising about 5.5 km (18,000 ft) above the crater floor, that Curiosity will investigate. The landing site is a smooth region in "Yellowknife" Quad 51[12][13][14][15] of Aeolis Palus inside the crater in front of the mountain. The target landing site location was an elliptical area 20 by 7 km (12.4 by 4.3 mi).[16] Gale Crater's diameter is 154 km (96 mi). The final landing location for the rover was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the planned landing ellipse, after a 563,000,000 km (350,000,000 mi) journey.[17]

The landing site contains material washed down from the wall of the crater, which will provide scientists with the opportunity to investigate the rocks that form the bedrock in this area. The landing ellipse also contains a rock type that is very dense, very brightly colored, and unlike any rock type previously investigated on Mars. It may be an ancient playa lake deposit, and it will likely be the mission's first target in checking for the presence of organic molecules.[18]

A rock outcrop near the landing site has been named "Goulburn". This rock outcrop, along with several others further eastward, including "Link" and "Hottah", suggest the "vigorous" flow of water in an ancient streambed.[19][20][21]

An area of top scientific interest for Curiosity lies at the edge of the landing ellipse and beyond a dark dune field. Here, orbiting instruments have detected signatures of both clay minerals and sulfate salts.[22] Scientists studying Mars have several hypotheses about how these minerals reflect changes in the Martian environment, particularly changes in the amount of water on the surface of Mars. The rover will use its full instrument suite to study these minerals and how they formed. Certain minerals, including the clay and sulfate-rich layers near the bottom of Gale's mountain, are good at latching onto organic compounds—potential biosignatures—and protecting them from oxidation.[23]

Two canyons were cut in the mound through the layers containing clay minerals and sulfate salts after deposition of the layers. These canyons expose layers of rock representing tens or hundreds of millions of years of environmental change. Curiosity may be able to investigate these layers in the canyon closest to the landing ellipse, gaining access to a long history of environmental change on the planet. The canyons also contain sediment that was transported by the water that cut the canyons;[24] this sediment interacted with the water, and the environment at that time may have been habitable. Thus, the rocks deposited at the mouth of the canyon closest to the landing ellipse form the third target in the search for organic molecules.[citation needed]

On March 27, 2015, NASA reported the landing site was fading from view in the two-and-a-half years since landing in 2012, as shown in the following animation:

Landing site fading from view after first several years.

Ray Bradbury[edit]

On naming the location, 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."[2] Bradbury wrote a collection of stories called The Martian Chronicles in the 1940s.[2] 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!"[2] As part of the naming, NASA released a video of Bradbury from 1971 reading his poem "If Only We Had Taller Been" which is about the human quest to explore space.[25][26]

In honor of the naming of Bradbury Landing, NASA released a video of Ray Bradbury from 1971 reading his poem, "If Only We Had Taller Been" (poem begins at 2:20, full text[25]).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Amos, Jonathan (August 7, 2012). "Nasa's Curiosity rover pictured on Mars by MRO satellite". BBC News. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Flood, Alison (23 August 2012). "Curiosity Martian landing point named after Ray Bradbury". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ MSNBC Staff (August 6, 2012). "Video from rover looks down on Mars during landing". NBC News. Retrieved October 7, 2012.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Young, Monica (August 7, 2012). "Watch Curiosity Descend onto Mars". Archived from the original on December 9, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  6. ^ Webster, Guy; Brown, Dwayne (July 22, 2011). "NASA's Next Mars Rover To Land At Gale Crater". NASA JPL. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  7. ^ Chow, Dennis (July 22, 2011). "NASA's Next Mars Rover to Land at Huge Gale Crater". Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  8. ^ Amos, Jonathan (July 22, 2011). "Mars rover aims for deep crater". BBC News. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  9. ^ Agle, D. C. (March 28, 2012). "'Mount Sharp' On Mars Links Geology's Past and Future". NASA. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  10. ^ Staff (March 29, 2012). "NASA's New Mars Rover Will Explore Towering 'Mount Sharp'". Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  11. ^ NASA Staff (March 27, 2012). "'Mount Sharp' on Mars Compared to Three Big Mountains on Earth". NASA. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  12. ^ NASA Staff (August 10, 2012). "Curiosity's Quad - IMAGE". NASA. Retrieved August 11, 2012.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Amos, Jonathan (August 9, 2012). "Mars rover makes first colour panorama". BBC News. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  15. ^ Halvorson, Todd (August 9, 2012). "Quad 51: Name of Mars base evokes rich parallels on Earth". USA Today. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  16. ^ Amos, Jonathan (June 12, 2012). "Nasa's Curiosity rover targets smaller landing zone". BBC News. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  17. ^ "'Impressive' Curiosity landing only 1.5 miles off, NASA says". CNN. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  18. ^ "Context of Curiosity Landing Site in Gale Crater". NASA. July 22, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ NASA (September 27, 2012). "NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Old Streambed on Mars -video (51:40)". NASAtelevision. Retrieved September 28, 2012.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  21. ^ Chang, Alicia (September 27, 2012). "Mars rover Curiosity finds signs of ancient stream". AP News. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  22. ^ "Canyons on Mountain Inside Gale Crater". NASA. November 10, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  23. ^ Webster, Guy; Dwayne Brown (July 22, 2011). "NASA's Next Mars Rover to Land at Gale Crater". NASA. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "Lower Portion of Mound Inside Gale Crater". NASA. July 22, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  25. ^ a b Jessie Lendennie, ed. (2006). "If Only We Had Taller Been". Daughter and Other Poems. Salmon Publishing. pp. 57–58.
  26. ^ "Curiosity Landing Site Named for Ray Bradbury". NASA. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.

External links[edit]