Matching Items (13)

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Hydrogen isotopic systematics of nominally anhydrous phases in martian meteorites

Description

Hydrogen isotope compositions of the martian atmosphere and crustal materials can provide unique insights into the hydrological and geological evolution of Mars. While the present-day deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) of the

Hydrogen isotope compositions of the martian atmosphere and crustal materials can provide unique insights into the hydrological and geological evolution of Mars. While the present-day deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) of the Mars atmosphere is well constrained (~6 times that of terrestrial ocean water), that of its deep silicate interior (specifically, the mantle) is less so. In fact, the hydrogen isotope composition of the primordial martian mantle is of great interest since it has implications for the origin and abundance of water on that planet. Martian meteorites could provide key constraints in this regard, since they crystallized from melts originating from the martian mantle and contain phases that potentially record the evolution of the H2O content and isotopic composition of the interior of the planet over time. Examined here are the hydrogen isotopic compositions of Nominally Anhydrous Phases (NAPs) in eight martian meteorites (five shergottites and three nakhlites) using Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS).

This study presents a total of 113 individual analyses of H2O contents and hydrogen isotopic compositions of NAPs in the shergottites Zagami, Los Angeles, QUE 94201, SaU 005, and Tissint, and the nakhlites Nakhla, Lafayette, and Yamato 000593. The hydrogen isotopic variation between and within meteorites may be due to one or more processes including: interaction with the martian atmosphere, magmatic degassing, subsolidus alteration (including shock), and/or terrestrial contamination. Taking into consideration the effects of these processes, the hydrogen isotope composition of the martian mantle may be similar to that of the Earth. Additionally, this study calculated upper limits on the H2O contents of the shergottite and nakhlite parent melts based on the measured minimum H2O abundances in their maskelynites and pyroxenes, respectively. These calculations, along with some petrogenetic assumptions based on previous studies, were subsequently used to infer the H2O contents of the mantle source reservoirs of the depleted shergottites (200-700 ppm) and the nakhlites (10-100 ppm). This suggests that mantle source of the nakhlites is systematically drier than that of the depleted shergottites, and the upper mantle of Mars may have preserved significant heterogeneity in its H2O content. Additionally, this range of H2O contents is not dissimilar to the range observed for the Earth’s upper mantle.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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High-resolution Martian soil thickness derived from yearly surface temperatures

Description

The temperature of a planet's surface depends on numerous physical factors, including thermal inertia, albedo and the degree of insolation. Mars is a good target for thermal measurements because the

The temperature of a planet's surface depends on numerous physical factors, including thermal inertia, albedo and the degree of insolation. Mars is a good target for thermal measurements because the low atmospheric pressure combined with the extreme dryness results in a surface dominated by large differences in thermal inertia, minimizing the effect of other physical properties. Since heat is propagated into the surface during the day and re-radiated at night, surface temperatures are affected by sub-surface properties down to several thermal skin depths. Because of this, orbital surface temperature measurements combined with a computational thermal model can be used to determine sub-surface structure. This technique has previously been applied to estimate the thickness and thermal inertia of soil layers on Mars on a regional scale, but the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System "THEMIS" instrument allows much higher-resolution thermal imagery to be obtained. Using archived THEMIS data and the KRC thermal model, a process has been developed for creating high-resolution maps of Martian soil layer thickness and thermal inertia, allowing investigation of the distribution of dust and sand at a scale of 100 m/pixel.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Wind-driven modification of small bedforms in Gusev Crater, Mars

Description

ABSTRACT

The Spirit landing site in Gusev Crater has been imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera more than thirty times since 2006. The

ABSTRACT

The Spirit landing site in Gusev Crater has been imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera more than thirty times since 2006. The breadth of this image set allowed a study of changes to surface features, covering four Mars years.

Small fields of bedforms comprised of dark material, and dark dust devil tracks are among the features revealed in the images. The bedforms are constrained within craters on the plains, and unconstrained in depressions less than 200m wide within the topography of the Columbia Hills, a ~120m-high structure in center of Gusev. Dust devil tracks appear in many images of the bedforms.

Within the Columbia Hills, three bedform fields approximately 180m2 and composed of fine dark basaltic sand were studied, using five HiRISE images taken from 2006 to 2014. Both bedform crests and the dust devil tracks superimposed on them were evaluated for change to azimuth and length, and for correlation between the features. The linear to slightly sinuous transverse crests ranging from less than 1m to 113m in length and two to three meters in wavelength, are primary bedforms. During the study they shifted as much as 33 degrees in azimuth, and individual crests moved on the surface as much as 0.75m. The greatest changes corresponded to a global dust storm in 2007. Average crest movement was documented at the rate of 0.25m per year. Rather than moving progressively, the crests eventually returned to near their original orientation after the storm. The dust devil tracks, reflecting a more complex wind regime, including vortex development during diurnal heating, maintained predominantly NW-SE orientations but also reflected the effects of the storm.

The observed modifications were neither progressive, nor strictly seasonal. The apparent stability of the bedform geometry over four seasons supports the predictions of the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS): low speed (1-7.5 ms-1), daily alternating winds of relatively equal force. Crest profiles were found to be nearly symmetrical, without slipfaces to indicate a preferential wind direction; this finding also is supported by the MRAMS model.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Meteorites on Mars as planetary research tools with special considerations for Martian weathering processes

Description

The occurrence of exogenic, meteoritic materials on the surface of any world presents opportunities to explore a variety of significant problems in the planetary sciences. In the case of Mars,

The occurrence of exogenic, meteoritic materials on the surface of any world presents opportunities to explore a variety of significant problems in the planetary sciences. In the case of Mars, meteorites found on its surface may help to 1) constrain atmospheric conditions during their time of arrival; 2) provide insights into possible variabilities in meteoroid type sampling between Mars and Earth space environments; 3) aid in our understanding of soil, dust, and sedimentary rock chemistry; 4) assist with the calibration of crater-age dating techniques; and 5) provide witness samples for chemical and mechanical weathering processes. The presence of reduced metallic iron in approximately 88 percent of meteorite falls renders the majority of meteorites particularly sensitive to oxidation by H2O interaction. This makes them excellent markers for H2O occurrence. Several large meteorites have been discovered at Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum by the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs). Significant morphologic characteristics interpretable as weathering features in the Meridiani suite of iron meteorites include a 1) large pit lined with delicate iron protrusions suggestive of inclusion removal by corrosive interaction; 2) differentially eroded kamacite and taenite lamellae on three of the meteorites, providing relative timing through cross-cutting relationships with deposition of 3) an iron oxide-rich dark coating; and 4) regmaglypted surfaces testifying to regions of minimal surface modification; with other regions in the same meteorites exhibiting 5) large-scale, cavernous weathering. Iron meteorites found by Mini-TES at both Meridiani Planum and Gusev Crater have prompted laboratory experiments designed to explore elements of reflectivity, dust cover, and potential oxide coatings on their surfaces in the thermal infrared using analog samples. Results show that dust thickness on an iron substrate need be only one tenth as great as that on a silicate rock to obscure its infrared signal. In addition, a database of thermal emission spectra for 46 meteorites was prepared to aid in the on-going detection and interpretation of these valuable rocks on Mars using Mini-TES instruments on both MER spacecraft. Applications to the asteroidal sciences are also relevant and intended for this database.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Volcanic history of the Tempe volcanic province

Description

Tempe Terra, Mars, has a complex history marked by volcanism and tectonism. Investigation results presented here build on previous work to better determine the volcanic history of the Tempe volcanic

Tempe Terra, Mars, has a complex history marked by volcanism and tectonism. Investigation results presented here build on previous work to better determine the volcanic history of the Tempe volcanic province by identifying and mapping previously undetected vents, characterizing all vents, identifying spatial and temporal trends in eruptive styles, comparing vent density to similar provinces such as the Snake River Plains of Idaho and Syria Planum and determining absolute age relationships among the volcanic features. Crater size-frequency distribution model ages of 120 Ma to 2.4 Ga indicate the province has been active for over half of the planet's history. During that time, age decreases from southwest to northeast, a trend that parallels the dominant orientation of faulting in the region, providing further evidence that volcanic activity in the region is tectonically controlled (or the tectonics is magmatically controlled). Morphological variation with age hints at an evolving magma source (increasing viscosity) or changing eruption conditions (decreasing eruption rate or eruption through thicker lithosphere).

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Distribution of windblown sediment in small craters on Mars

Description

Many shallow craters near the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover landing site contain asymmetric deposits of windblown sediments which could indicate the predominant local wind direction at the time of deposition

Many shallow craters near the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover landing site contain asymmetric deposits of windblown sediments which could indicate the predominant local wind direction at the time of deposition or redistribution. Wind tunnel simulations and field studies of terrestrial craters were used to determine trends in deposition as a function of crater morphometry and wind direction. Terrestrial analog field work at the Amboy lava field, Mojave Desert, California, included real-time wind measurements and assessments of active sediment deposition in four small (<100 m) craters. Preliminary results indicate that reverse flow or stagnant wind and deposition on the upwind side of the crater floor occurs in craters with depth-to-diameter (d/D) ratios ≥0.05. Measurements taken within a crater of d/D of ~0.02 do not indicate reverse flow. Therefore, reverse flow is expected to cease within a d/D range of 0.02 to 0.05, resulting in wind movement directly over the crater floor in the downwind direction with no asymmetric sediment deposition. Wind tunnel simulations using six crater models, including a scaled model of a crater from the Amboy lava field, were completed to assess the wind flow in and around craters as a function of crater morphometry (depth, diameter). Reverse flow occurred in craters with d/D ratios ≥0.033, resulting in sediment deposition in the upwind portion of the crater floor. Visual observations of a crater with a d/D of ~0.020 did not indicate reverse flow, similar to the results of field studies; therefore, reverse flow appears to cease within a d/D range of 0.020 to 0.033. Craters with asymmetric aeolian deposits near the Mars Spirit landing site have d/D ratios of 0.034 to 0.076, suggesting that reverse flow occurs in these craters. Thus, the position of windblown sediments in the northwest parts of the crater floors would indicate prevailing winds from the northwest to the southeast, consistent with late afternoon winds as predicted by the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS) circulation model.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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The effects of chemical weathering on thermal-infrared spectral data and models: implications for aqueous processes on the Martian surface

Description

Chemical and mineralogical data from Mars shows that the surface has been chemically weathered on local to regional scales. Chemical trends and the types of chemical weathering products present on

Chemical and mineralogical data from Mars shows that the surface has been chemically weathered on local to regional scales. Chemical trends and the types of chemical weathering products present on the surface and their abundances can elucidate information about past aqueous processes. Thermal-infrared (TIR) data and their respective models are essential for interpreting Martian mineralogy and geologic history. However, previous studies have shown that chemical weathering and the precipitation of fine-grained secondary silicates can adversely affect the accuracy of TIR spectral models. Furthermore, spectral libraries used to identify minerals on the Martian surface lack some important weathering products, including poorly-crystalline aluminosilicates like allophane, thus eliminating their identification in TIR spectral models. It is essential to accurately interpret TIR spectral data from chemically weathered surfaces to understand the evolution of aqueous processes on Mars. Laboratory experiments were performed to improve interpretations of TIR data from weathered surfaces. To test the accuracy of deriving chemistry of weathered rocks from TIR spectroscopy, chemistry was derived from TIR models of weathered basalts from Baynton, Australia and compared to actual weathering rind chemistry. To determine how specific secondary silicates affect the TIR spectroscopy of weathered basalts, mixtures of basaltic minerals and small amounts of secondary silicates were modeled. Poorly-crystalline aluminosilicates were synthesized and their TIR spectra were added to spectral libraries. Regional Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) data were modeled using libraries containing these poorly-crystalline aluminosilicates to test for their presence on the Mars. Chemistry derived from models of weathered Baynton basalts is not accurate, but broad chemical weathering trends can be interpreted from the data. TIR models of mineral mixtures show that small amounts of crystalline and amorphous silicate weathering products (2.5-5 wt.%) can be detected in TIR models and can adversely affect modeled plagioclase abundances. Poorly-crystalline aluminosilicates are identified in Northern Acidalia, Solis Planum, and Meridiani. Previous studies have suggested that acid sulfate weathering was the dominant surface alteration process for the past 3.5 billion years; however, the identification of allophane indicates that alteration at near-neutral pH occurred on regional scales and that acid sulfate weathering is not the only weathering process on Mars.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Breaking ground on the Moon and Mars: reconstructing lunar tectonic evolution and Martian central pit crater formation

Description

Understanding the structural evolution of planetary surfaces provides key insights to their physical properties and processes. On the Moon, large-scale tectonism was thought to have ended over a billion years

Understanding the structural evolution of planetary surfaces provides key insights to their physical properties and processes. On the Moon, large-scale tectonism was thought to have ended over a billion years ago. However, new Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) high resolution images show the Moon’s surface in unprecedented detail and show many previously unidentified tectonic landforms, forcing a re-assessment of our views of lunar tectonism. I mapped lobate scarps, wrinkle ridges, and graben across Mare Frigoris – selected as a type area due to its excellent imaging conditions, abundance of tectonic landforms, and range of inferred structural controls. The distribution, morphology, and crosscutting relationships of these newly identified populations of tectonic landforms imply a more complex and longer-lasting history of deformation that continues to today. I also performed additional numerical modeling of lobate scarp structures that indicates the upper kilometer of the lunar surface has experienced 3.5-18.6 MPa of differential stress in the recent past, likely due to global compression from radial thermal contraction.

Central pit craters on Mars are another instance of intriguing structures that probe subsurface physical properties. These kilometer-scale pits are nested in the centers of many impact craters on Mars as well as on icy satellites. They are inferred to form in the presence of a water-ice rich substrate; however, the process(es) responsible for their formation is still debated. Previous models invoke origins by either explosive excavation of potentially water-bearing crustal material, or by subsurface drainage of meltwater and/or collapse. I assessed radial trends in grain size around central pits using thermal inertias calculated from Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) thermal infrared images. Average grain size decreases with radial distance from pit rims – consistent with pit-derived ejecta but not expected for collapse models. I present a melt-contact model that might enable a delayed explosion, in which a central uplift brings ice-bearing substrate into contact with impact melt to generate steam explosions and excavate central pits during the impact modification stage.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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The formation and degradation of planetary surfaces: impact features and explosive volcanic landforms on the Moon and Mars

Description

Impact cratering and volcanism are two fundamental processes that alter the surfaces of the terrestrial planets. Though well studied through laboratory experiments and terrestrial analogs, many questions remain regarding how

Impact cratering and volcanism are two fundamental processes that alter the surfaces of the terrestrial planets. Though well studied through laboratory experiments and terrestrial analogs, many questions remain regarding how these processes operate across the Solar System. Little is known about the formation of large impact basins (>300 km in diameter) and the degree to which they modify planetary surfaces. On the Moon, large impact basins dominate the terrain and are relatively well preserved. Because the lunar geologic timescale is largely derived from basin stratigraphic relations, it is crucial that we are able to identify and characterize materials emplaced as a result of the formation of the basins, such as light plains. Using high-resolution images under consistent illumination conditions and topography from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), a new global map of light plains is presented at an unprecedented scale, revealing critical details of lunar stratigraphy and providing insight into the erosive power of large impacts. This work demonstrates that large basins significantly alter the lunar surface out to at least 4 radii from the rim, two times farther than previously thought. Further, the effect of pre-existing topography on the degradation of impact craters is unclear, despite their use in the age dating of surfaces. Crater measurements made over large regions of consistent coverage using LROC images and slopes derived from LROC topography show that pre-existing topography affects crater abundances and absolute model ages for craters up to at least 4 km in diameter.

On Mars, small volcanic edifices can provide valuable insight into the evolution of the crust and interior, but a lack of superposed craters and heavy mantling by dust make them difficult to age date. On Earth, morphometry can be used to determine the ages of cinder cone volcanoes in the absence of dated samples. Comparisons of high-resolution topography from the Context Imager (CTX) and a two-dimensional nonlinear diffusion model show that the forms observed on Mars could have been created through Earth-like processes, and with future work, it may be possible to derive an age estimate for these features in the absence of superposed craters or samples.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Remote sensing of Martian sedimentary deposits and lunar pyroclastic deposits

Description

On Mars, sedimentary deposits reveal a complex history of water- and wind-related geologic processes. Central mounds – kilometer-scale stacks of sediment located within craters – occur across Mars, but the

On Mars, sedimentary deposits reveal a complex history of water- and wind-related geologic processes. Central mounds – kilometer-scale stacks of sediment located within craters – occur across Mars, but the specific processes responsible for mound formation and subsequent modification are still uncertain. A survey of central mounds within large craters was conducted. Mound locations, mound offsets within their host craters, and relative mound heights were used to address various mound formation hypotheses. The results suggest that mound sediments once filled their host craters and were later eroded into the features observed today. Mounds offsets from the center of their host crater imply that wind caused the erosion of central mounds. An in depth study of a single central mound (Mt. Sharp within Gale crater) was also conducted. Thermal Emission Imaging System Visible Imaging Subsystem (THEMIS-VIS) mosaics in grayscale and false color were used to characterize the morphology and color variations in and around Gale crater. One result of this study is that dunes within Gale crater vary in false color composites from blue to purple, and that these color differences may be due to changes in dust cover, grain size, and/or composition. To further investigate dune fields on Mars, albedo variations at eight dune fields were studied based on the hypothesis that a dune’s ripple migration rate is correlated to its albedo. This study concluded that a dune’s minimum albedo does not have a simple correlation with its ripple migration rate. Instead, dust devils remove dust on slow-moving and immobile dunes, whereas saltating sand caused by strong winds removes dust on faster-moving dunes.

On the Moon, explosive volcanic deposits within Oppenheimer crater that were emplaced ballistically were investigated. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Diviner Radiometer mid-infrared data, LRO Camera images, and Chandrayaan-1 orbiter Moon Mineralogy Mapper near-infrared spectra were used to test the hypothesis that the pyroclastic deposits in Oppenheimer crater were emplaced via Vulcanian activity by constraining their composition and mineralogy. The mineralogy and iron-content of the pyroclastic deposits vary significantly (including examples of potentially very high iron compositions), which indicates variability in eruption style. These results suggest that localized lunar pyroclastic deposits may have a more complex origin and mode of emplacement than previously thought.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016