Update: Just in, real cool enhanced image of Curiosity parachute descent, shot by HiRISE (amazing feat to maneuver one satellite already in orbit can to get this, but little atmosphere probably helps)
As pictures begin to come back from Curiosity what struck me as very funny was the oft-quoted comment of John Grotzinger that the landing site looked just like Earth, specifically the Mojave Desert. I laughed a bit in that: a) why would anyone, with all the places to go on Earth, chose to go the Mojave Desert, so we dropped our 2.5B$ tourist in an low-rent part of Mars, b) Mojave Desert, yeah right, but on Mars the temperature would freeze us to death in no time flat, and, c) I’ve been to the Mojave and even such a desolate place has some life, some scrawny plants that can survive and if you look closely a few animals. Sorry, John, that photo may look like the Mojave to you but I think even the Antiplano looks more appealing than that site! Now if the site were a lush landscape with beautiful azure ocean that looked like some Caribbean island, wow, then I’d get excited with that postcard from Mars.
And, according to this article, Grotzinger also thinks the landing site is “awesome” and wants to hang around in it rather than just charging off for Mr. Sharp. All that excitement over a flood plain, well, I’ve got one right around here he could visit. I do get it, why an alluvial fan would be great thing to study, but these Mars geologist folks really do live on a different world in terms of what tickles their fancy.