It might look like an aerial view of waves crashing on a distant shore. But this scene, recently captured by NASA's HiRISE camera, is actually part of the largest sedimentary fan inside Mars's 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer-wide) Holden Crater.
Scientists think that the abundant channels, fans, and layered sediments on Holden's floor suggest ancient deposits left by flowing water. That's why the crater is among the potential landing sites for NASA's newest rover, the Mars Science Laboratory, which is slated to launch in fall 2009.
Once the new rover lands, it will collect and analyze rock samples to determine if the red planet was ever capable of supporting microbial life.
NASA scientists think the fan is an ideal landing site for the craft, because it is large enough to aim for, flat and rock-free enough to land on safely, and within a reasonable distance of sites of scientific interest inside the crater.
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Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona