Group founder Vitali Erogov made scale models of what each piece of the Mars 3 hardware should look like in MRO-class images, the University of Arizona, which operates the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, wrote in a press release.
Erogov then searched the massive HiRISE image of the landing site for matching features. Four viable candidates turned up in the southern part of the picture.
ANALYSIS: Curiosity's Parachute Flaps in the Martian Wind
"Each candidate has a size and shape consistent with the expected hardware, and they are arranged on the surface as expected from the entry, descent and landing sequence," the University of Arizona wrote.
The group contacted HiRISE lead scientist who arranged for a follow-up image.
"Together, this set of features and their layout on the ground provide a remarkable match, but alternative explanations cannot be ruled out," HiRISE lead scientist Alfred McEwen said in a statement.
For hi-res imagery of the candidate Mars 3 landing site, see the HiRISE news release.