Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gale crater on Mars named after Australian banker and astronomer Walter Frederick Gale

The Gale crater on Mars was named in 1991 after Australian banker and astronomer Walter Frederick Gale (1865-1945) [1-3]. This 150-kilometer-wide hollow emerged as the front-runner for the landing site of NASA's Curiosity rover and finally was picked for the $2.5 billion rover mission, successfully launched at the end of November in 2011 [3-5].

The leaders of the Curiosity mission chose the Gale crater as landing spot, because it promises to be the scene for exciting studies of Martian sedimentary patterns by using rock-vaporizing lasers, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and X-ray diffraction instruments for chemical analysis as well as high-resolution digital cameras from Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS)  [6]. Channels (probably carved by flowing water) in the crater wall and mid-crater mound have been found during previous orbit-based studies:  the mound in the center of the five-kilometer-deep impact crater contains layered materials including clay and other minerals [7].

Keywords: astronomy, planetary science, areography, Martian topography, geology, terminology.

References and more to explore
[1] Google Mars Lab: www.google.com/mars/.
[2] Harley Wood: Gale, Walter Frederick (1865-1945). Australian Dictionary of Biography [adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gale-walter-frederick-6269].
[3] Space News: NASA Picks Gale Crater for Mars Science Lab Landing. July 25, 2011 [www.spacenews.com/civil/110725-nasa-picks-gale-crater-msl.html].
[4] Nancy Atkinson: Gale crater reported front-runner for MSL landing site. June 24, 2011 [www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-gale-crater-front-runner-msl-site.html].
[5] James Holloway: Mars Curiosity Rover successfully launched. November 27, 2011 [http://www.gizmag.com/mars-curiosity-launch-nasa/20627/].
[6] Eric Hand: The Mars Observer. Nature, November 24, 2011, 479 (7374), pp. 460-463 [www.nature.com/news/mike-malin-the-mars-observer-1.9402].
[7] NASA Mars Science Laboratory > Gale Crater: mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/timeline/prelaunch/landingsiteselection/galecrater2/.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
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