Matching Items (7)

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Assessing martian bedrock mineralogy through "windows" in the dust using near- and thermal infrared remote sensing

Description

Much of Mars' surface is mantled by bright dust, which masks the spectral features used to interpret the mineralogy of the underlying bedrock. Despite the wealth of near-infrared (NIR) and

Much of Mars' surface is mantled by bright dust, which masks the spectral features used to interpret the mineralogy of the underlying bedrock. Despite the wealth of near-infrared (NIR) and thermal infrared data returned from orbiting spacecraft in recent decades, the detailed bedrock composition of approximately half of the martian surface remains relatively unknown due to dust cover. To address this issue, and to help gain a better understanding of the bedrock mineralogy in dusty regions, data from the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) Dust Cover Index (DCI) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Mars Color Imager (MARCI) were used to identify 63 small localized areas within the classical bright dusty regions of Arabia Terra, Elysium Planitia, and Tharsis as potential "windows" through the dust; that is, areas where the dust cover is thin enough to permit infrared remote sensing of the underlying bedrock. The bedrock mineralogy of each candidate "window" was inferred using processed spectra from the Mars Express (MEx) Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité (OMEGA) NIR spectrometer and, where possible, TES. 12 areas of interest returned spectra that are consistent with mineral species expected to be present at the regional scale, such as high- and low-calcium pyroxene, olivine, and iron-bearing glass. Distribution maps were created using previously defined index parameters for each species present within an area. High-quality TES spectra, if present within an area of interest, were deconvolved to estimate modal mineralogy and support NIR results. OMEGA data from Arabia Terra and Elysium Planitia are largely similar and indicate the presence of high-calcium pyroxene with significant contributions of glass and olivine, while TES data suggest an intermediate between the established southern highlands and Syrtis Major compositions. Limited data from Tharsis indicate low-calcium pyroxene mixed with lesser amounts of high-calcium pyroxene and perhaps glass. TES data from southern Tharsis correlate well with the previously inferred compositions of the Aonium and Mare Sirenum highlands immediately to the south.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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The ancient rocky surfaces of Mars: analysis of spacecraft data and the development of laboratory instrumentation

Description

Early spacecraft missions to Mars, including the Marnier and Viking orbiters and landers revealed a morphologically and compositionally diverse landscape that reshaped widely held views of Mars. More recent spacecraft

Early spacecraft missions to Mars, including the Marnier and Viking orbiters and landers revealed a morphologically and compositionally diverse landscape that reshaped widely held views of Mars. More recent spacecraft including Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Exploration Rovers have further refined, enhanced, and diversified our understanding of Mars. In this dissertation, I take a multiple-path approach to planetary and Mars science including data analysis and instrument development. First, I present several tools necessary to effectively use new, complex datasets by highlighting unique and innovative data processing techniques that allow for the regional to global scale comparison of multiple datasets. Second, I present three studies that characterize several processes on early Mars, where I identify a regional, compositionally distinct, in situ, stratigraphically significant layer in Ganges and Eos Chasmata that formed early in martian history. This layer represents a unique period in martian history where primitive mantle materials were emplaced over large sections of the martian surface. While I originally characterized this layer as an effusive lava flow, based on the newly identified regional or global extent of this layer, I find the only likely scenario for its emplacement is the ejecta deposit of the Borealis Basin forming impact event. I also re-examine high thermal inertia, flat-floored craters identified in Viking data and conclude they are typically more mafic than the surrounding plains and were likely infilled by primitive volcanic materials during, or shortly after the Late Heavy Bombardment. Furthermore, the only plausible source for these magmas is directly related to the impact process, where mantle decompression melting occurs as result of the removal of overlying material by the impactor. Finally, I developed a new laboratory microscopic emission and reflectance spectrometer designed to help improve the interpretation of current remote sensing or in situ data from planetary bodies. I present the design, implementation, calibration, system performance, and preliminary results of this instrument. This instrument is a strong candidate for the next generation in situ rover instruments designed to definitively assess sample mineralogy and petrology while preserving geologic context.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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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

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.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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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

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.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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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.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Glacial processes on Earth and Mars: new perspectives from remote sensing and laboratory analyses

Description

Chemical and physical interactions of flowing ice and rock have inexorably shaped planetary surfaces. Weathering in glacial environments is a significant link in biogeochemical cycles – carbon and strontium –

Chemical and physical interactions of flowing ice and rock have inexorably shaped planetary surfaces. Weathering in glacial environments is a significant link in biogeochemical cycles – carbon and strontium – on Earth, and may have once played an important role in altering Mars’ surface. Despite growing recognition of the importance of low-temperature chemical weathering, these processes are still not well understood. Debris-coated glaciers are also present on Mars, emphasizing the need to study ice-related processes in the evolution of planetary surfaces. During Earth’s history, subglacial environments are thought to have sheltered communities of microorganisms from extreme climate variations. On Amazonian Mars, glaciers such as lobate debris aprons (LDA) could have hosted chemolithotrophic communities, making Mars’ present glaciers candidates for life preservation. This study characterizes glacial processes on both Earth and Mars.

Chemical weathering at Robertson Glacier, a small alpine glacier in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, is examined with a multidisciplinary approach. The relative proportions of differing dissolution reactions at various stages in the glacial system are empirically determined using aqueous geochemistry. Synthesis of laboratory and orbital thermal infrared spectroscopy allows identification of dissolution rinds on hand samples and characterization of carbonate dissolution signals at orbital scales, while chemical and morphological evidence for thin, discontinuous weathering rinds at microscales are evident from electron microscopy. Subglacial dissolution rates are found to outpace those of the proglacial till plain; biologically-mediated pyrite oxidation drives the bulk of this acidic weathering.

Second, the area-elevation relationship, or hypsometry, of LDA in the midlatitudes of Mars is characterized. These glaciers are believed to have formed ~500 Ma during a climate excursion. Hypsometric measurements of these debris-covered glaciers enable insight into past flow regimes and drive predictions about past climate scenarios. The LDA in this study fall into three major groups, strongly dependent on basal elevation, implying regional and climatic controls on ice formation and flow.

I show that biologically-mediated mineral reactions drive high subglacial dissolution rates, such that variations within the valley can be detected with remote sensing techniques. In future work, these insights can be applied to examining Mars’ glacial regions for signs of chemical alteration and biosignatures.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Early solar system to deep mantle: the geochemistry of planetary systems

Description

The origin of the solar system and formation of planets such as Earth are among the most fascinating, outstanding scientific problems. From theoretical models to natural observations, it is possible

The origin of the solar system and formation of planets such as Earth are among the most fascinating, outstanding scientific problems. From theoretical models to natural observations, it is possible to infer a general way of how the solar system evolved from the gravitational collapse of the molecular cloud to accretion and differentiation of planetary-sized bodies. This dissertation attempts to place additional constraints on the source, distribution, and evolution of chemical variability in the early solar system, Mars, and Earth.

A new method was developed for the measurement of titanium isotopes in calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) by laser ablation multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The isotopic compositions of 17 Allende CAIs define a narrow range with clearly resolved excesses in 46Ti and 50Ti and suggests that "normal" CAIs formed from a relatively uniform reservoir. Petrologic and isotopic analysis of a new FUN (Fractionated and Unknown Nuclear effects) CAI suggests that normal and FUN CAIs condensed in similar environments, but subsequently evolved under vastly different conditions.

Volatiles may have influenced the formation and evolution of basaltic magmas on Mars. Light lithophile element (LLE) and fluorine (F) concentrations and isotopic compositions of pyroxene determined in situ in several Martian meteorites suggests that the primary magmatic signature of LLE and F zonation in Shergottite pyroxene has been disturbed by post-crystallization diffusive equilibration. Using relevant crystal-melt partition coefficients the F contents for Martian meteorite parental melts are ~910 and ~220 ppm. Estimates of the F content in the Shergottite and Nakhlite source regions are similar to that of mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) and ocean island basalts (OIB), respectively, here on Earth.

Noble gas systematics of OIBs relative to MORBs, suggests OIBs preferentially sample a primordial reservoir located within Earth's mantle. Geodynamic calculations were performed to investigate the time-dependent rate of material entrained into plumes from these primordial reservoirs. These models predict melts rising to the surface will contain variable proportions of primordial material. The results demonstrate that although high 3He/4He ratios may mandate a mantle plume that samples a primordial reservoir, more MORB-like 3He/4He ratios in OIBs do not preclude a deep plume source.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014