(via Nasa’s Curiosity rover targets smaller landing zone)
Nasa is now targetting a smaller landing ellipse that should put the rover closer to the base of Mount Sharp
The 900kg robot is heading for a touchdown on 6 August (GMT) in a near-equatorial depression on the Red Planet known as Gale Crater.
Controllers have drawn an ellipse on the surface that is just 7km by 20km.
They say they can hit this target because of their confidence in the high-precision landing system attached to the rover.
This system will use thrusters to guide the high-velocity phase of the robot’s entry into the Martian atmosphere - a technology not available on previous lander missions. A large parachute and a rocket-powered cradle will manage the final moments of the descent.
Nasa says that by tightening the extent of the ellipse, down from the previously envisaged 20km by 25km, it can cut the time taken by the rover to roll to its primary science location.