SpaceX Studying Potential Landing Sites on Mars, Four Regions Identified as Candidates
As experts put it, the trip to Mars will happen, the only question is when. SpaceX is committed to land on Mars and has already proceeded with investigating potential landing sites on the red planet.
Elon Musk's commercial space flight company moved passed the planning and design phase and is now studying potential landing sites on Mars. This is being done while their Mars transporter is also being developed.
SpaceX is definitely thinking ahead. The company is working with NASA in order to identify and ID the potential landing sites on Mars. Various data are being scrutinized to find the most feasible spots that will serve as landing areas for future Martian spacecraft and voyagers.
Paul Wooster from SpaceX revealed that the company is working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to identify candidates and to study the viability of the locations tagged, according to TechCrunch. Woodster is also working with the company's Dragon control systems and other Mars projects.
Reports say that in order to be considered, the landing spot should be near ice. The landing spot should also be elevated and should be near the equator to be able to harvest energy from the Sun. Due to the combination of ice and sunlight, there are very few sites that have both. This means the potential landing sites were already trimmed down to a handful.
"It's probably hard to find that along with ice," Paul Wooster of SpaceX said in a conference last March 18, as per Space News.
Wooster added that there are four regions that met the requirements. Three of the four are Deuteronilus Mensae, Phlegra Montes and Utopia Planitia, according to Daily Mail.
The locations were identified based on the images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. However, there could still be challenges that needed further investigations.
"The team at JPL has been finding that, while the areas look very flat and smooth at CTX resolution, with HiRISE images, they're quite rocky," Wooster added. "That's been unfortunate in terms of the opportunities for those sites."
What's important for SpaceX is to identify landing sites that will serve as a portal for its planned permanent human settlement on the red planet. SpaceX is tackling mission to Mars slowly. The original 2018 target date was moved to mid-2020.