Elon Musk's aerospace company SpaceX has been working with NASA to identify landing spots on Mars for its spacecraft.
"We are working with scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere, and have identified several potential landing sites, including one that looks particularly promising," SpaceNews quoted SpaceX's Paul Wooster as saying.
Wooster exercised oversight of Dragon spacecraft guidance, navigation and control systems and also worked on the company's higher-level Mars plans.
According to Wooster, the site selection was based on several criteria including access to large quantities of ice near the surface that could, ultimately, support human settlements.
"Another is to be close to the Equator and at a low elevation for solar power and better thermal conditions. It's probably hard to find that along with ice.''
Four regions in the northern hemisphere of Mars had been identified for landing.
The Red Dragon spacecraft was capable of carrying about one ton of payload to Mars.
"SpaceX is a transportation company. We transport cargo to the space station, we deliver payloads to orbit, so we're very happy to deliver payloads to Mars," Wooster said.
Meanwhile, CNBC reported Bas Lansdorp, chief executive of Mars One as saying yesterday that "Mars is simply the next continent humans will settle."
Lansdorp is one of a growing number of entrepreneurs aiming to send humans to Mars and create a human settlement on the red planet in the next few years but his company is very different from Elon Musk's SpaceX.
Mars One comprises two companies; the not-for-profit Mars One Foundation and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange-listed Mars One Ventures. The company did not build rockets or equipment but instead it contracted other companies like Lockheed Martin to make the technology needed.
According to Lansdorp, the firm even had had talks with SpaceX about buying one of its rockets.