Indian scientist in team that fixed rover landing site

An Indian scientist who was a part of the NASA team which had identified the landing site of the Curiosity rover on the Red Planet described the spot as "very exciting" and holding "great promise".

The scientist Amitabh Ghosh, chair of the science operations working group at NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission, was a member of the team that zeroed in on the Gale crater location where the car-sized rover successfully landed on Monday at 11:00 IST.

"We were very, very concerned. This is a very tough sequence to do. Imagine you are trying to land on earth and you are testing a bunch of technologies which you have never tested and you know very little about the atmosphere," Ghosh said on Monday demonstrating the difficulty of the mission. "This is a very big deal. This is the moment which comes down to thousands of people working over five to six years. If this crashes, there is nothing after that," he told NDTV.

The Gale crater's location, 24,78,38,976 km from home, was chosen after observations from orbit identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history. "Clay minerals occur in water related environment, and also we see layering in this crater. On earth, sedimentary rocks show layering and that is again an evidence of water rich environment," he said. "Each layer can potentially be a window into the martial environment," Ghosh added.

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