The landing site proposed for the exploration of the Dao Vallis is the western branch of the outflow channel of Dao Vallis. This branch of the channel is between the Hadriaca Pantera volcano and the seemingly smooth Hesperian plains.
The actual texture of these plains can not yet be determined, because the only images currently available of this area are from the Viking orbiters, and are limited by the resolution of the cameras aboard the vehicles. The channel as a whole has a 5 km drop in elevation from its origin on the southern slope of the Hedriaca Pantera volcano to its end at the edge of the great impact basin of Hellas Planitia. The formation of the channel, which occurred after the formation of the Hadriaca Patera volcano, is probably due to spring sapping and hydrothermal activity from the nearby volcano.
This site presents explorers with the opportunity of simultaneously investigating an outflow channel, a mixture of volcanic and plain materials throughout the channel, and the disruptions at the edge of the Hellas basin. At the same time, it posses a technological challenge to explorers derived from its high degree of complexity.
The complexity of Dao Vallis is both geological and climatic. Orbital analyzes of the atmosphere over the region shows that water frost, water vapor clouds, and dust storms are common on the channel floor as well as in the surrounding regions.
The complexity of this site has caused the great interest for the carrying out of extensive exobilogical experiments. The hydrothermal activity of the area, which is associated with mineralization, increases the possibility of finding biological traces or fossils, because of the known biological productivity of thermal springs and fossil burial. These assumptions about thermal springs are based on experience on Earth and may or may apply to the case of Mars.