Next Mars rover will land in 96-mile-wide crater

July 22, 2011 - 10:29 AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA's next Mars rover will land at the foot of a mountain inside a 96-mile-wide crater named Gale.

The space agency announced the choice Friday, selecting Gale Crater over another crater named Eberswalde.

The mountain in Gale Crater is layered, and scientists believe it is the surviving remnant of an extensive sequence of deposits.

The rover is officially named Mars Science Laboratory but is nicknamed Curiosity. It will use its tools to study whether the target area ever had conditions for supporting microbial life.

Curiosity is much larger than Opportunity, the NASA rover still operating on Mars.