You have been directed to find a safe landing site somewhere in the region called Cydonia Mensae, west of the crater Bamberg. This site is along the boundary between the Martian highlands and the northern lowlands, which cover the northern third of Mars. This area was chosen for several reasons:
First, it has a variety of interesting geologic features, including impact craters, weirdly shaped mountains, and rolling plains with polygonal grooves in them.
Second, these different features are close together, an important consideration since your land rover has only a limited range of travel.
Third, planetary geologists think that an ocean once filled the lowlands and that the old shoreline runs just south of the landing area. If this is true, then the smoother plains between the mountains in the landing area are part of the ancient Martian sea beds. The beds probably contain water ice that can be used for drinking (vital to any long-term settlement) and fossilized Martian life-forms, if they exist.
Last, but not least, this particular section of the old shoreline was chosen because a noisy group of extremists on Earth think that some of the oddly shaped mountains are actually artifacts shaped by intelligent Martians (?!). SAL is unimpressed ("Martians," it intones, "How droll."), but the possibility of a first contact with alien life forms makes the human crew members a bit edgy.
You have two images, a low-resolution image (Cydonia.1) that shows a large region around the target landing area, and a high-resolution image (Cydonia.2) that you will use to actually choose the landing site. Both of the images, however, are a bit garbled and will require some processing to be useful. Of course, you prefer to start with the high-resolution image because it shows a much better view of the "good stuff," but SAL insists that you practice your image processing techniques on the low-resolution image first. "You humans would probably totally destroy the landing site image, and then we would be stuck in orbit forever."
So, just to humor ol' "Circuit Brain" (after all, SAL does control all shipboard systems, including life support), let's work on those processing skills. There are several of them, and once you learn how to use them on one image, you can use them on any image. (Since you will need to leave your web browser and open NIH Image to work on the images, you should print out the instructions for the sections: "Viewing Digital Images," "Seeing Pixels," and "Enhancing digital Images.")
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