One of the most difficult aspects of space exploration is finding a safe but scientifically compelling place to land. With HiRISE and its powerful resolution, other mission teams can request HiRISE images of potential future landing sites on Mars.
That’s the case with this observation for NASA’s upcoming InSight mission, which needs to find a safe, flat landing area that will also meet their mission goals. This area is considered a finalist landing ellipse for the mission, which will delve deep beneath the surface of Mars to search for insight into the processes of terrestrial planet formation.
HiRISE has become an invaluable tool for other Mars missions. We can take hundreds of images of potential landing spots for other science missions, like we did for the successful Phoenix Lander and the rover Curiosity, currently exploring Gale Crater.
Written by: HIRISE Science Team (audio by Tre Gibbs) (15 May 2013)
More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_031249_1785
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona