Matching Items (36)

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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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Modeling the interior of Haumea

Description

The Kuiper Belt Object Haumea is one of the most fascinating objects in the solar system. Spectral reflectance observations reveal a surface of almost pure water ice, yet it

The Kuiper Belt Object Haumea is one of the most fascinating objects in the solar system. Spectral reflectance observations reveal a surface of almost pure water ice, yet it has a mass of 4.006 × 1021 kg, measured from orbits of its moons, along with an inferred mean radius of 715 km, and these imply a mean density of around 2600 kg m−3. Thus the surface ice must be a veneer over a rocky core. This model is supported by observations of Haumea's light curve, which shows large photometric variations over an anomalously rapid 3.9154-hour rotational period. Haumea's surface composition is uniform, therefore the light curve must be due to a varying area presented to the observer, implying that Haumea has an oblong, ellipsoidal shape. If Haumea's rotation axis is normal to our line of sight, and Haumea reflects with a lunar-like scattering function, then its axis ratios are p = b/a = 0.80 (in the equatorial cross section) and q = c/a = 0.52 (in the polar cross section). In this work, I assume that Haumea is in hydrostatic equilibrium, and I model it as a two-phase ellipsoid with an ice mantle and a rocky core. I model the core assuming it has a given density in the range between 2700–3300 kg m−3 with axis ratios that are free to vary. The metric which my code uses calculates the angle between the gravity vector and the surface normal, then averages this over both the outer surface and the core-mantle boundary. When this fit angle is minimized, it allows an interpretation of the size and shape of the core, as well as the thickness of the ice mantle. Results of my calculations show that Haumea's most likely core density is 2700–2800 kg m−3, with ice thicknesses anywhere from 12–32 km over the poles and as thin as 4–18 km over the equator.

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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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Date Created
  • 2013

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Analysis of spacecraft data for the study of diverse lunar volcanism and regolith maturation rates

Description

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft missions provide new data for investigating the youngest impact craters on Mercury and the Moon, along

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft missions provide new data for investigating the youngest impact craters on Mercury and the Moon, along with lunar volcanic end-members: ancient silicic and young basaltic volcanism. The LRO Wide Angle Camera (WAC) and Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) in-flight absolute radiometric calibration used ground-based Robotic Lunar Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope data as standards. In-flight radiometric calibration is a small aspect of the entire calibration process but an important improvement upon the pre-flight measurements. Calibrated reflectance data are essential for comparing images from LRO to missions like MESSENGER, thus enabling science through engineering. Relative regolith optical maturation rates on Mercury and the Moon are estimated by comparing young impact crater densities and impact ejecta reflectance, thus empirically testing previous models of faster rates for Mercury relative to the Moon. Regolith maturation due to micrometeorite impacts and solar wind sputtering modies UV-VIS-NIR surface spectra, therefore understanding maturation rates is critical for interpreting remote sensing data from airless bodies. Results determined the regolith optical maturation rate on Mercury is 2 to 4 times faster than on the Moon. The Gruithuisen Domes, three lunar silicic volcanoes, represent relatively rare lunar lithologies possibly similar to rock fragments found in the Apollo sample collection. Lunar nonmare silicic volcanism has implications for lunar magmatic evolution. I estimated a rhyolitic composition using morphologic comparisons of the Gruithuisen Domes, measured from NAC 2-meter-per-pixel digital topographic models (DTMs), with terrestrial silicic dome morphologies and laboratory models of viscoplastic dome growth. Small, morphologically sharp irregular mare patches (IMPs) provide evidence for recent lunar volcanism widely distributed across the nearside lunar maria, which has implications for long-lived nearside magmatism. I identified 75 IMPs (100-5000 meters in dimension) in NAC images and DTMs, and determined stratigraphic relationships between units common to all IMPs. Crater counts give model ages from 18-58 Ma, and morphologic comparisons with young lunar features provided an additional age constraint of <100 Ma. The IMPs formed as low-volume basaltic eruptions significantly later than previous evidence of lunar mare basalt volcanism's end (1-1.2 Ga).

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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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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

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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Date Created
  • 2018

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Biochemical Networks Across Planets and Scales

Description

Biochemical reactions underlie all living processes. Their complex web of interactions is difficult to fully capture and quantify with simple mathematical objects. Applying network science to biology has advanced our

Biochemical reactions underlie all living processes. Their complex web of interactions is difficult to fully capture and quantify with simple mathematical objects. Applying network science to biology has advanced our understanding of the metabolisms of individual organisms and the organization of ecosystems, but has scarcely been applied to life at a planetary scale. To characterize planetary-scale biochemistry, I constructed biochemical networks using global databases of annotated genomes and metagenomes, and biochemical reactions. I uncover scaling laws governing biochemical diversity and network structure shared across levels of organization from individuals to ecosystems, to the biosphere as a whole. Comparing real biochemical reaction networks to random reaction networks reveals the observed biological scaling is not a product of chemistry alone, but instead emerges due to the particular structure of selected reactions commonly participating in living processes. I perform distinguishability tests across properties of individual and ecosystem-level biochemical networks to determine whether or not they share common structure, indicative of common generative mechanisms across levels. My results indicate there is no sharp transition in the organization of biochemistry across distinct levels of the biological hierarchy—a result that holds across different network projections.

Finally, I leverage these large biochemical datasets, in conjunction with planetary observations and computational tools, to provide a methodological foundation for the quantitative assessment of biology’s viability amongst other geospheres. Investigating a case study of alkaliphilic prokaryotes in the context of Enceladus, I find that the chemical compounds observed on Enceladus thus far would be insufficient to allow even these extremophiles to produce the compounds necessary to sustain a viable metabolism. The environmental precursors required by these organisms provides a reference for the compounds which should be prioritized for detection in future planetary exploration missions. The results of this framework have further consequences in the context of planetary protection, and hint that forward contamination may prove infeasible without meticulous intent. Taken together these results point to a deeper level of organization in biochemical networks than what has been understood so far, and suggests the existence of common organizing principles operating across different levels of biology and planetary chemistry.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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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

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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Date Created
  • 2018

Mars in the Visible to Near Infrared: Two Views of the Red Planet

Description

Remote sensing in visible to near-infrared wavelengths is an important tool for identifying and understanding compositional differences on planetary surfaces. Electronic transitions produce broad absorption bands that are often due

Remote sensing in visible to near-infrared wavelengths is an important tool for identifying and understanding compositional differences on planetary surfaces. Electronic transitions produce broad absorption bands that are often due to the presence of iron cations in crystalline mineral structures or amorphous phases. Mars’ iron-rich and variably oxidized surface provides an ideal environment for detecting spectral variations that can be related to differences in surface dust cover or the composition of the underlying bedrock. Several imaging cameras sent to Mars include the capability to selectively filter incoming light to discriminate between surface materials.

At the coarse spatial resolution provided by the wide-angle Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), regional scale differences in reflectance at all wavelengths are dominated by the presence or absence of Fe3+-rich dust. The dust cover in many regions is highly variable, often with strong seasonal dependence although major storm events can redistribute dust in ways that significantly alter the albedo of large-scale regions outside of the normal annual cycle. Surface dust reservoirs represent an important part of the martian climate system and may play a critical role in the growth of regional dust storms to planet-wide scales. Detailed investigation of seasonal and secular changes permitted by repeated MARCI imaging coverage have allowed the surface dust coverage of the planet at large to be described and have revealed multiannual replenishing of regions historically associated with the growth of storms.

From the ground, rover-based multispectral imaging acquired by the Mastcam cameras allows compositional discrimination between bedrock units and float material encountered along the Curiosity rover’s traverse across crater floor and lower Mt. Sharp units. Mastcam spectra indicate differences in primary mineralogy, the presence of iron-bearing alteration phases, and variations in iron oxidation state, which occur at specific locations along the rover’s traverse. These changes represent differences in the primary depositional environment and the action of later alteration by fluids circulating through fractures in the bedrock. Loose float rocks sample materials brought into the crater by fluvial or other processes. Mastcam observations provide important constraints on the geologic history of the Gale Crater site.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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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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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011