NASA has selected a destination for its latest Mars explorer, a car-sized probe named Curiosity, when the rover touches down on the red planet in August of 2012.
The competition for landing sides had been winnowed down to the Gale crater or the Eberswalde crater, and NASA plans to announce the winner during a Friday press conference at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Curiosity will be probing its landing site for signs that life existed there, such as molecular fossiles, or for evidence that conditions could have nurtured microbial life.
Some scientists suspect that Eberswalde was once an ancient river delta given the presence of clay-like minerals called phyllosilicates, which tend to form during long-term contact with water. The Gale crater also contains phyllosilicates, and Curiosity could attempt to scale a 3 mile high mountain rising from Gale's center.
Curiosity's mission is central to NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission.