Matching Items (10)

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Characterizing Diurnal Density and Temperature Variations in the Martian Atmosphere Using Data/Model Comparisons

Description

This project focuses on using Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) density data for carbon dioxide, oxygen, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen during deep dip campaigns 5, 6, and 8. Density profiles obtained from NGIMS were plotted against simulated density

This project focuses on using Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) density data for carbon dioxide, oxygen, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen during deep dip campaigns 5, 6, and 8. Density profiles obtained from NGIMS were plotted against simulated density profiles from the Mars Global Ionosphere-Thermosphere Model (MGITM). Averaged temperature profiles were also plotted for the three deep dip campaigns, using NGIMS data and MGITM output. MGITM was also used as a tool to uncover potential heat balance terms needed to reproduce the mean density and temperature profiles measured by NGIMS.

This method of using NGIMS data as a validation tool for MGITM simulations has been tested previously using dayside data from deep dip campaigns 2 and 8. In those cases, MGITM was able to accurately reproduce the measured density and temperature profiles; however, in the deep dip 5 and 6 campaigns, the results are not quite the same, due to the highly variable nature of the nightside thermosphere. MGITM was able to fairly accurately reproduce the density and temperature profiles for deep dip 5, but the deep dip 6 model output showed unexpected significant variation. The deep dip 6 results reveal possible changes to be made to MGITM to more accurately reflect the observed structure of the nighttime thermosphere. In particular, upgrading the model to incorporate a suitable gravity wave parameterization should better capture the role of global winds in maintaining the nighttime thermospheric structure.

This project reveals that there still exist many unknowns about the structure and dynamics of the night side of the Martian atmosphere, as well as significant diurnal variations in density. Further study is needed to uncover these unknowns and their role in atmospheric mass loss.

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Date Created
2019-05

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INVESTIGATING THE DISTRIBUTION OF FROSTS IN RELATION TO PRESENT-DAY GULLY ACTIVITY ON MARS

Description

A wide range of types of activity in mid-latitude Martian gullies has been observed over the last decade (Malin et al., 2006; Harrison et al., 2009, 2015; Diniega et al., 2010; Dundas et al., 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017) with some

A wide range of types of activity in mid-latitude Martian gullies has been observed over the last decade (Malin et al., 2006; Harrison et al., 2009, 2015; Diniega et al., 2010; Dundas et al., 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017) with some activity constrained temporally to occur in the coldest times of year (winter and spring; Harrison et al., 2009; Diniega et al., 2010; Dundas et al., 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017), suggesting that surficial frosts that form seasonally and diurnally might play a key role in this present-day activity. Frost formation is highly dependent on two key factors: (1) surface temperature and (2) the atmospheric partial pressure of the condensable gas (Kieffer, 1968). The Martian atmosphere is primarily composed of CO2and CO2 frost formation is not diffusion-limited (unlike H2O). Hence, for temperatures less than the local frost point of CO2, (~ 148 K at a surface pressure of 610 Pa) frost is always present (Piqueux et al., 2016). Typically, these frosts are dominated volumetrically by CO2, although small amounts of H2O frosts are also present, and typically precede CO2 frost deposition (due to water’s higher condensation temperature (Schorghofer and Edgett, 2006)). Here we use the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) and the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) onboard Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor, respectively, to explore the global spatial and temporal variation of temperatures conducive to CO2 and H2O frost formation on Mars, and assess their distribution with gully landforms. CO2 frost temperatures are observed at all latitudes and are strongly correlated with dusty, low thermal inertia regions near the equator. Modeling results suggest that frost formation is restricted to the surface due to near-surface radiative effects. About 49 % of all gullies lie within THEMIS frost framelets. In terms of active gullies, 54 % of active gullies lie within THEMIS framelets, with 14.3% in the north and 54% in the south.
Relatively small amounts of H2O frost (~ 10–100 μm) are also likely to form diurnally and seasonally. The global H2O frost point distribution follows water vapor column abundance closely, with a weak correlation with local surface pressure. There is a strong hemispherical dependence on the frost point temperature—with the northern hemisphere having a higher frost point (in general) than the southern hemisphere—likely due to elevation differences. Unlike the distribution of CO2 frost temperatures, there is little to no correlation with surface thermophysical properties (thermal inertia, albedo, etc.). Modeling suggests H2O frosts can briefly attain melting point temperatures for a few hours if present under thin layers of dust, and can perhaps play a role in present-day equatorial mass-wasting events (eg. McEwen et al., 2018).
Based on seasonal constraints on gully activity timing, preliminary field studies, frost presence from visible imagery, spectral data and thermal data (this work), it is likely that most present-day activity can be explained by frosts (primarily CO2, and possibly H2O). We predict that the conditions necessary for significant present-day activity include formation of sufficient amounts of frost (> ~20 cm/year) within loose, unconsolidated sediments (I < ~ 350) on available slopes. However, whether or not present-day gully activity is representative of gully formation as a whole is still open to debate, and the details on CO2 frost-induced gully formation mechanisms remain unresolved.

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2019-05

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Heat and mass transfer on planetary surfaces

Description

Planetary surface studies across a range of spatial scales are key to interpreting modern and ancient operative processes and to meeting strategic mission objectives for robotic planetary science exploration. At the meter-scale and below, planetary regolith conducts heat at a

Planetary surface studies across a range of spatial scales are key to interpreting modern and ancient operative processes and to meeting strategic mission objectives for robotic planetary science exploration. At the meter-scale and below, planetary regolith conducts heat at a rate that depends on the physical properties of the regolith particles, such as particle size, sorting, composition, and shape. Radiometric temperature measurements thus provide the means to determine regolith properties and rock abundance from afar. However, heat conduction through a matrix of irregular particles is a complicated physical system that is strongly influenced by temperature and atmospheric gas pressure. A series of new regolith thermal conductivity experiments were conducted under realistic planetary surface pressure and temperature conditions. A new model is put forth to describe the radiative, solid, and gaseous conduction terms of regolith on Earth, Mars, and airless bodies. These results will be used to infer particle size distribution from temperature measurements of the primitive asteroid Bennu to aid in OSIRIS-REx sampling site selection. Moving up in scale, fluvial processes are extremely influential in shaping Earth's surface and likely played an influential role on ancient Mars. Amphitheater-headed canyons are found on both planets, but conditions necessary for their development have been debated for many years. A spatial analysis of canyon form distribution with respect to local stratigraphy at the Escalante River and on Tarantula Mesa, Utah, indicates that canyon distribution is most closely related to variations in local rock strata, rather than groundwater spring intensity or climate variations. This implies that amphitheater-headed canyons are not simple markers of groundwater seepage erosion or megaflooding. Finally, at the largest scale, volcanism has significantly altered the surface characteristics of Earth and Mars. A field campaign was conducted in Hawaii to investigate the December 1974 Kilauea lava flow, where it was found that lava coils formed in an analogous manner to those found in Athabasca Valles, Mars. The location and size of the coils may be used as indicators of local effusion rate, viscosity, and crustal thickness.

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Created

Date Created
2018

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Driven by affect to explore asteroids, the Moon, and science education

Description

Affect is a domain of psychology that includes attitudes, emotions, interests, and values. My own affect influenced the choice of topics for my dissertation. After examining asteroid interiors and the Moon’s thermal evolution, I discuss the role of affect in

Affect is a domain of psychology that includes attitudes, emotions, interests, and values. My own affect influenced the choice of topics for my dissertation. After examining asteroid interiors and the Moon’s thermal evolution, I discuss the role of affect in online science education. I begin with asteroids, which are collections of smaller objects held together by gravity and possibly cohesion. These “rubble-pile” objects may experience the Brazil Nut Effect (BNE). When a collection of particles of similar densities, but of different sizes, is shaken, smaller particles will move parallel to the local gravity vector while larger objects will do the opposite. Thus, when asteroids are shaken by impacts, they may experience the BNE as possibly evidenced by large boulders seen on their surfaces. I found while the BNE is plausible on asteroids, it is confined to only the outer layers. The Moon, which formed with a Lunar Magma Ocean (LMO), is the next topic of this work. The LMO is due to the Moon forming rapidly after a giant impact between the proto-Earth and another planetary body. The first 80% of the LMO solidified rapidly at which point a floatation crust formed and slowed solidification of the remaining LMO. Impact bombardment during this cooling process, while an important component, has not been studied in detail. Impacts considered here are from debris generated during the formation of the Moon. I developed a thermal model that incorporates impacts and find that impacts may have either expedited or delayed LMO solidification. Finally, I return to affect to consider the differences in attitudes towards science between students enrolled in fully-online degree programs and those enrolled in traditional, in-person degree programs. I analyzed pre- and post-course survey data from the online astrobiology course Habitable Worlds. Unlike their traditional program counterparts, students enrolled in online programs started the course with better attitudes towards science and also further changed towards more positive attitudes during the course. Along with important conclusions in three research fields, this work aims to demonstrate the importance of affect in both scientific research and science education.

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Date Created
2017

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Planetary Geological Science and Aerospace Systems Engineering Applications of Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing for Earth, Mars, and the Outer Bodies

Description

Many planetary science missions study thermophysical properties of surfaces using infrared spectrometers and infrared cameras. Thermal inertia is a frequently derived thermophysical property that quantifies the ability for heat to exchange through planetary surfaces.

To conceptualize thermal inertia, the diffusion equation

Many planetary science missions study thermophysical properties of surfaces using infrared spectrometers and infrared cameras. Thermal inertia is a frequently derived thermophysical property that quantifies the ability for heat to exchange through planetary surfaces.

To conceptualize thermal inertia, the diffusion equation analogies are extended using a general effusivity term: the square root of a product of conductivity and capacity terms. A hypothetical thermal inductance was investigated for diurnal planetary heating. The hyperbolic heat diffusion equation was solved to derive an augmented thermal inertia. The hypothetical thermal inductance was modeled with negligible effect on Mars.

Extending spectral performance of infrared cameras was desired for colder bodies in the outer solar system where peak infrared emission is at longer wavelengths. The far-infrared response of an infrared microbolometer array with a retrofitted diamond window was determined using an OSIRIS-REx—OTES interferometer. An instrument response function of the diamond interferometer-microbolometer system shows extended peak performance from 15 µm out to 20 µm and 40% performance to at least 30 µm. The results are folded into E-THEMIS for the NASA flagship mission: Europa Clipper.

Infrared camera systems are desired for the expanding smallsat community that can inherit risk and relax performance requirements. The Thermal-camera for Exploration, Science, and Imaging Spacecraft (THESIS) was developed for the Prox-1 microsat mission. THESIS, incorporating 2001 Mars Odyssey—THEMIS experience, consists of an infrared camera, a visible camera, and an instrument computer. THESIS was planned to provide images for demonstrating autonomous proximity operations between two spacecraft, verifying deployment of the Planetary Society’s LightSail-B, and conducting remote sensing of Earth. Prox-1—THESIS was selected as the finalist for the competed University Nanosatellite Program-7 and was awarded a launch on the maiden commercial SpaceX Falcon Heavy. THESIS captures 8-12 µm IR images with 100 mm optics and RGB color images with 25 mm optics. The instrument computer was capable of instrument commanding, automatic data processing, image storage, and telemetry recording. The completed THESIS has a mass of 2.04 kg, a combined volume of 3U, and uses 7W of power. THESIS was designed, fabricated, integrated, and tested in ASU’s 100K clean lab.

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2018

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Investigations of water-bearing environments on the Moon and Mars

Description

Water is a critical resource for future human missions, and is necessary for understanding the evolution of the Solar System. The Moon and Mars have water in various forms and are therefore high-priority targets in the search for accessible

Water is a critical resource for future human missions, and is necessary for understanding the evolution of the Solar System. The Moon and Mars have water in various forms and are therefore high-priority targets in the search for accessible extraterrestrial water. Complementary remote sensing analyses coupled with laboratory and field studies are necessary to provide a scientific context for future lunar and Mars exploration. In this thesis, I use multiple techniques to investigate the presence of water-ice at the lunar poles and the properties of martian chloride minerals, whose evolution is intricately linked with liquid water.

Permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) at the lunar poles may contain substantial water ice, but radar signatures at PSRs could indicate water ice or large block populations. Mini-RF radar and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Narrow Angle Camera (LROC NAC) products were used to assess block abundances where radar signatures indicated potential ice deposits. While the majority of PSRs in this study indicated large block populations and a low likelihood of water ice, one crater – Rozhdestvenskiy N – showed indirect indications of water ice in its interior.

Chloride deposits indicate regions where the last substantial liquid water existed on Mars. Major ion abundances and expected precipitation sequences of terrestrial chloride brines could provide context for assessing the provenance of martian chloride deposits. Chloride minerals are most readily distinguished in the far-infrared (45+ μm), where their fundamental absorption features are strongest. Multiple chloride compositions and textures were characterized in far-infrared emission for the first time. Systematic variations in the spectra were observed; these variations will allow chloride mineralogy to be determined and large variations in texture to be constrained.

In the present day, recurring slope lineae (RSL) may indicate water flow, but fresh water is not stable on Mars. However, dissolved chloride could allow liquid water to flow transiently. Using Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) data, I determined that RSL are most likely not fed by chloride-rich brines on Mars. Substantial amounts of salt would be consumed to produce a surface water flow; therefore, these features are therefore thought to instead be surface darkening due to capillary wicking.

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Date Created
2017

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ExoPlex: a new Python library for detailed modeling of rocky exoplanet internal structure and mineralogy

Description

The pace of exoplanet discoveries has rapidly accelerated in the past few decades and the number of planets with measured mass and radius is expected to pick up in the coming years. Many more planets with a size similar to

The pace of exoplanet discoveries has rapidly accelerated in the past few decades and the number of planets with measured mass and radius is expected to pick up in the coming years. Many more planets with a size similar to earth are expected to be found. Currently, software for characterizing rocky planet interiors is lacking. There is no doubt that a planet’s interior plays a key role in determining surface conditions including atmosphere composition and land area. Comparing data with diagrams of mass vs. radius for terrestrial planets provides only a first-order estimate of the internal structure and composition of planets [e.g. Seager et al 2007]. This thesis will present a new Python library, ExoPlex, which has routines to create a forward model of rocky exoplanets between 0.1 and 5 Earth masses. The ExoPlex code offers users the ability to model planets of arbitrary composition of Fe-Si-Mg-Al-Ca-O in addition to a water layer. This is achieved by modeling rocky planets after the earth and other known terrestrial planets. The three distinct layers which make up the Earth's internal structure are: core, mantle, and water. Terrestrial planet cores will be dominated by iron however, like earth, there may be some quantity of light element inclusion which can serve to enhance expected core volumes. In ExoPlex, these light element inclusions are S-Si-O and are included as iron-alloys. Mantles will have a more diverse mineralogy than planet cores. Unlike most other rocky planet models, ExoPlex remains unbiased in its treatment of the mantle in terms of composition. Si-Mg-Al-Ca oxide components are combined by predicting the mantle mineralogy using a Gibbs free energy minimization software package called Perple\_X [Connolly 2009]. By allowing an arbitrary composition, ExoPlex can uniquely model planets using their host star’s composition as an indicator of planet composition. This is a proven technique [Dorn et al 2015] which has not yet been widely utilized, possibly due to the lack of availability of easy to use software. I present a model sensitivity analysis to indicate the most important parameters to constrain in future observing missions. ExoPlex is currently available on PyPI so it may be installed using pip or conda on Mac OS or Linux based operating systems. It requires a specific scripting environment which is explained in the documentation currently stored on the ExoPlex GitHub page.

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2018

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Machine learning on Mars: a new lens on data from planetary exploration missions

Description

There are more than 20 active missions exploring planets and small bodies beyond Earth in our solar system today. Many more have completed their journeys or will soon begin. Each spacecraft has a suite of instruments and sensors that provide

There are more than 20 active missions exploring planets and small bodies beyond Earth in our solar system today. Many more have completed their journeys or will soon begin. Each spacecraft has a suite of instruments and sensors that provide a treasure trove of data that scientists use to advance our understanding of the past, present, and future of the solar system and universe. As more missions come online and the volume of data increases, it becomes more difficult for scientists to analyze these complex data at the desired pace. There is a need for systems that can rapidly and intelligently extract information from planetary instrument datasets and prioritize the most promising, novel, or relevant observations for scientific analysis. Machine learning methods can serve this need in a variety of ways: by uncovering patterns or features of interest in large, complex datasets that are difficult for humans to analyze; by inspiring new hypotheses based on structure and patterns revealed in data; or by automating tedious or time-consuming tasks. In this dissertation, I present machine learning solutions to enhance the tactical planning process for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover and future tactically-planned missions, as well as the science analysis process for archived and ongoing orbital imaging investigations such as the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) at Mars. These include detecting novel geology in multispectral images and active nuclear spectroscopy data, analyzing the intrinsic variability in active nuclear spectroscopy data with respect to elemental geochemistry, automating tedious image review processes, and monitoring changes in surface features such as impact craters in orbital remote sensing images. Collectively, this dissertation shows how machine learning can be a powerful tool for facilitating scientific discovery during active exploration missions and in retrospective analysis of archived data.

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Date Created
2019

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Identification and Quantitative Classification of Europa’s Microfeatures: Implications for Microfeature Formation Models and the Europa Clipper Flagship Mission

Description

Jupiter’s moon Europa is an active target of research because of its unique geology and its potential for habitability. Europa’s icy chaos disrupts and transforms the previous terrain, suggesting melting is involved. Chaos occurs alongside several types of endogenic surface

Jupiter’s moon Europa is an active target of research because of its unique geology and its potential for habitability. Europa’s icy chaos disrupts and transforms the previous terrain, suggesting melting is involved. Chaos occurs alongside several types of endogenic surface features. These microfeatures are under <100 km2 in area and include uplifts and domes, pits, spots, and hybrid features. The distribution of microfeatures is known in the ~10% of the Europa’s surface that are covered by the regional mosaics (“RegMaps”). The efforts to connect microfeature formation to any kind of heat transport in Europa are confounded because microfeatures are difficult to identify outside of RegMaps because of low image resolutions. Finding microfeatures outside of RegMaps would provide new observational constraints for microfeature formation models.

First, I mapped microfeatures across four of Europa’s RegMaps and validated them against other mapping datasets. Microchaos features are the most numerous, followed by pits, domes, then hybrids. Spots are the least common features, and the smallest. Next, I mapped features in low-resolution images that covered the E15RegMap01 area to determine error rates and sources of omission or misclassification for features mapped in low-resolution images. Of all features originally mapped in the RegMap, pits and domes were the least likely to be re-mapped or positively identified (24.2% and 5%, respectively). Chaos, spots, and hybrids were accurately classified over 70% of the time. Quantitatively classifying these features using discriminant function analysis yielded comparable values of accuracy when compared to a human mapper. Finally, nearest-neighbor clustering analyses were used to show that pits are clustered in all regions, while chaos, domes, and hybrids vary in terms of their spatial clustering.

This work suggests that the most likely processes for microfeature formations is either the evolution of liquid water sills within Europa’s ice shell or cryovolcanism. Future work extending to more areas outside of the RegMaps can further refine microfeature formation models. The detection of liquid water at or near the surface is a major goal of multiple upcoming Europa missions; this work provides predictions that can be directly tested by these missions to maximize their scientific return.

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Date Created
2019

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Early Solar System Processes and Parent Body Relationships Recorded by Chromium and Titanium Isotopes in Meteorites

Description

Meteorites and their components can be used to unravel the history of the early Solar System. Carbonaceous chondrites are meteorites that originated from undifferentiated parent bodies that formed within a few million years of the beginning of the Solar System.

Meteorites and their components can be used to unravel the history of the early Solar System. Carbonaceous chondrites are meteorites that originated from undifferentiated parent bodies that formed within a few million years of the beginning of the Solar System. These meteorites contain calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs), which are the oldest dated solids in the Solar System at ~4.567 billion years old and thus preserve a record of the earliest stage of Solar System formation. The isotopic compositions of CAIs and bulk carbonaceous chondrites can be used to identify the sources of material inherited by the protoplanetary disk, assess the degree of mixing in the disk, and evaluate sample origins and potential genetic relationships between parent bodies. In particular, mass-independent Cr and Ti isotopic compositions have proven to be especially useful for these purposes.

In this work, I first developed new methods for the chemical separation of Cr and Ti, improving the reliability of existing methods to ensure consistent yields and accurate isotopic measurements. I then measured the Cr and Ti isotopic compositions of CAIs from CV and CK chondrites to determine the extent of isotopic heterogeneity in the CAI-forming region and assess the role of CAIs in the preservation of planetary-scale isotopic anomalies. My results show that all measured CAIs originated from a common isotopic reservoir that incorporated material from at least three distinct nucleosynthetic sources and preserved limited isotopic heterogeneity. These results also suggest that planetary-scale isotopic anomalies cannot be attributed solely to the transport of CAIs from one part of the solar nebula to another. I finally measured the Cr and Ti isotopic compositions of bulk CM, CO, and ungrouped chondrites to evaluate the relationship between CM and CO chondrites, which have been suggested to originate from either distinct but related parent bodies or a common compositionally heterogeneous parent body. My results suggest that CM, CO, and related ungrouped chondrites originated from distinct parent bodies that formed from similar precursor materials in nearby formation regions. These results may have implications for asteroid samples returned by the OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 missions.

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Date Created
2020