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Goals: Mission Design

Goal 2:   Characterize the Climate of Mars
[more on Goal  2 for the entire Mars Exploration Program]

This image shows layered, red cliffs rising up from a flat, brown surface. The cliff surface slants from right to left, with the nearest cliffs on the right-hand side of the image and those farther away toward the left. Pinkish-tan clouds hover above the crests of the cliffs. Recorded in the structure and mineral content of Mars' rocks and soils are signs of the environmental conditions under which the materials were formed and altered. Detailed studies of rock samples with the rover instruments will reveal climate details of Mars´ past, which may have been warmer and wetter. In addition, one science instrument will periodically look up to gather temperature profiles of the atmospheric boundary layer - the layer of atmosphere from the surface up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) in altitude. This part of the atmosphere cannot be well observed by orbital instruments, and the data returned will provide important basic information for understanding the current climate on Mars.
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