I was poking around on the NASA website looking for something entirely different (Pictures of Pluto and Charon), when I stumbled across a page entitled Where on Mars Might Humans First Land? The very detailed and impressive video above is also embedded in that page which describes potential areas of human exploration of the red planet.
The NASA webpage referenced above describes how Exploration Zones (EZ) will be selected and implemented on Mars:
While it is too early to identify where the first humans will land exactly, they will land in a pre-designated EZ, and begin building the infrastructure to support human life on Mars. New orbital and surface data from the Red Planet, contributions from our partners and advances in space exploration capabilities over the next several years will ultimately determine the exact configuration of the first human landing site(s).
Based on current studies in hardware and operations necessary for a sustainable human presence on Mars, the animation [above] represents work of the Human Spaceflight Architecture Team’s Evolvable Mars Campaign. It illustrates just one of many potential concepts for how an EZ might evolve over the course of multiple human and automated cargo missions spanning upwards of two decades.
The video above has no oral narration, but animated graphics appear designating the various features of an EZ. It is worth your time to watch the under-seven-minute video if you’re a space exploration junkie like me.
As an aside, I have bookmarked another Mars exploration site, Explore Mars Now, which features an interactive exploration habitat a bit different than in the video. Both are well-done.
I hope that I live long enough to see the first stages of human exploration of the Martian surface, but as the article describes the timeframe, it will be decades before anything comes to fruition.