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Space Shuttle Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars

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Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars - The newly dedicated Challenger Memorial Station, in a composite image from Mars Global Surveyor's Mars Orbiter Camera and the third and final picture taken by Opportunity's DIMES camera (Descent Image Motion Estimation System) during descent.

Space Shuttle Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars - The newly dedicated Challenger Memorial Station, in a composite image from Mars Global Surveyor's Mars Orbiter Camera and the third and final picture taken by Opportunity's DIMES camera (Descent Im

NASA/JPL
NASA has named the landing site of the Mars Opportunity Rover in honor of the crew lost aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, STS-51l. The landing area is in a broad plain called Meridiani Planum, where Opportunity landed January 25, 2004. It will be known as Challenger Memorial Station.

The seven crew members of Space Shuttle Challenger was lost when the ship suffered a breakup in flight during the launch on January 28, 1986.

Meridiani Planum was selected by NASA because of deposits of a mineral called crystalline hematite, which usually forms in the presence of liquid water. Scientists were in hopes that the landing site would be one where they could examine both the surface layer that is rich in hematite and an underlying geology of the light-colored layered rock. The small crater in which Opportunity alighted appears to have exposures of both, with soil that could be hematite and an exposed outcrop of the lighter rock layer.

Challenger commander was Francis R. Scobee and the mission pilot Michael J. Smith. Mission specialists included Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. And Ronald E. onizuka McNair. The mission also made two payload specialists, Gregory B. Jarvis and Sharon Christa McAuliffe, who was the agency's first teacher in space.

Opportunity successfully landed on Mars January 25, 2004. It has far surpassed its initial three month mission of exploring the region around what is now known as Challenger Memorial Station to determine if Mars was liquid and capable of sustaining life.

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