Possible periglacial landscape in Utopia Planitia

fig-1Planetary Geomorphology Image of the Month, July 2015: Alex Barrett (Open University, UK). The following images show the walls of a two kilometre diameter impact crater in Utopia Planitia on Mars. This region is part of the low lying Northern Plains which have generally flat topography. The main occurrences of steeper hill slopes in this region are impact craters such as the one illustrated below.

On Earth periglacial landscapes develop in permafrost regions, as a result of the repeated freezing and thawing of the upper layer of the ground over seasonal cycles. Consequently their presence on Mars would provide a geomorphic indicator for regions where water may have been thawing in the geologically recent past. Utopia Planitia is a leading candidate for possible periglacial environments on Mars and a variety of studies have focused on the this region (e.g. Soare et al. 2007; Lefort et al. 2009; Séjourné et al. 2011; Haltigin et al. 2014). [More at link]

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HiRISE: Channel system & patterned ground near Hellas

ESP_040601_1460In this image, we explore the southwestern floor of a 50-kilometer diameter unnamed crater, about 100 kilometers northeast of Hellas Basin. The crater’s rim is breached (see Google context image below) on both the north and south by a valley system that previously flowed across the crater floor, leaving behind an interesting array of channel patterns and deposits as it transported water and sediments into and out of the crater.

In this image, we see a portion of the channel system along the southwestern crater floor near where the valley breaches the southern rim. The darker-toned surface has a pattern similar to the texture of a basketball, and blankets the region both in the channel belt and in the basin below the cliffs. [More at link]

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Mars Orbiter Mission: E-book about Mars

coverThe Indian Space Research Organization, which operates the Mars Orbiter Mission, has published online for free download a 24-page illustrated PDF book on Mars. Written at about the middle-school level and illustrated with photos and cartoon-style drawings, the book describes Mars as a planet and provides a history of its exploration. About two-thirds of the book describes the Mars Orbiter Mission, the spacecraft and its instruments, and India’s space exploration program. [More at link]

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Opportunity report, Sol 4064, by A.J.S. Rayl, The Planetary Society

20150702_4-Lindbergh-Mound-Sol-4004-o42915-NavcamJuly 3, 2015: Opportunity Phones Home after Conjunction Healthy, Ready to Rove: After three weeks of being in a communications blackout on the other side of the Sun during the Earth-Mars solar conjunction, Opportunity phoned home from the rim of Spirit of St. Louis Crater on June 24th reporting that she is healthy and ready to continue the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission. (…)

“Opportunity came through solar conjunction with flying colors and is now dutifully carrying out her science assignments,” said Bill Nelson, chief of MER engineering at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), home to all NASA’s Mars rovers. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Searching for clinoforms in a possible delta

ESP_039820_1750A delta is a pile of sediment dumped by a river where it enters a standing body of water. Evidence for deltas that formed billions of years ago on Mars has been mounting in recent years. One line of evidence not yet investigated is to search for what are called clinoforms. In geology, a clinoform refers to a steep slope of sediment on the outer margin of a delta. This image seeks to test whether those features are visible and help confirm that Mars in ancient times had a standing body of water in… [More at link]

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Curiosity update: ‘Lots of contact science!’

1031MH0005060010400002C00_DXXXSol 1032, July 1, 2015, update from USGS scientist Ryan Anderson: Phew! Today was a busy day on Mars! Ken and I were both on operations today, picking up where Lauren left off yesterday. Ken was helping with ChemCam science in the geology and mineralogy (GeoMin) theme group, and I was the GeoMin Keeper of the Plan (KOP). We started off the day admiring the beautiful images from the sol 1031 “dog’s-eye view” mosaic of the ledge near the target “Missoula”. Then there was a long discussion about where to do our contact science, and in particular where to put APXS for an overnight measurement. In the end, we decided to do a MAHLI mosaic of the target “Clark”, just to the left of the “dog’s eye” mosaic from sol 1031, and then a MAHLI observation of “Lumpry” which will also be the overnight APXS location. [More at link]

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MARCI weather report, June 22–28, 2015

releaseimg_150622_150628For the past week on Mars, dust lifting and condensate water-ice clouds were observed along the seasonal north polar ice cap edge. A large transient dust storm was noted over Utopia at the beginning of the week. In the southern hemisphere, local dust storms occurred over Aonia, Noachis, and southern Promethei Terra. During the latter-half of the week, two storms south of Argyre kicked-up a diffuse dust cloud that stretched eastward towards Hellas. [More at link, including video]

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Curiosity studies rock-layer contact zone

PIA19679_ipNASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is examining a valley where at least two types of bedrock meet, for clues about changes in ancient environmental conditions recorded by the rock. In addition to two rock types for which this site was chosen, the rover has found a sandstone with grains of differing shapes and color. (…)

At the rover’s current location near “Marias Pass” on Mount Sharp, Curiosity has found a zone where different types of bedrock neighbor each other. One is pale mudstone, like bedrock the mission examined previously at “Pahump Hills.” Another is darker, finely bedded sandstone above the Pahrump-like mudstone. The rover team calls this sandstone the Stimson unit. [More at link]

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Curiosity: ChemCam at Seeley

1031-chemcamSol 1031, July 1, 2015. Four ChemCam frames make a composite showing details of the Seeley target on Missoula. (Click the image to see a larger version in a new tab.)

Sol 1031 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

 

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THEMIS: Wind erosion

Wind's sharp knife in Memnonia (THEMIS_IOTD_20150702)THEMIS Image of the Day, July 2, 2015. Long-term winds have etched the surface in Memnonia Sulci. Partial cemented surface materials are easily eroded by the wind, forming linear ridges called yardangs. The multiple direction of yardangs in this VIS image indicate that there were at least two different wind directions in this area.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity update: ‘A dog’s eye view at Missoula’

1030ML0045000040305535E01_DXXXSol 1031, June 30, 2015, update from USGS scientist Lauren Edgar: Today we planned some MAHLI imaging along the contact near the “Missoula” target [the ledge in the image at right].  We refer to it as a dog’s eye mosaic, meaning that we use the MAHLI camera to take a series of images along a vertical face – essentially sticking our nose in there to get a good view.  Hopefully it will provide a good perspective on the contact between the Stimson and Pahrump units!  The plan also includes several ChemCam observations along the contact, at targets named “Selow,” “Clark,” and “Wapiti.”  We planned these as vertical transects to characterize any changes in chemistry from the Pahrump… [More at link]

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Opportunity: Close-up on ‘red edge’ target

1F488978688EFFCNJSP1110R0M1Sol 4064, June 30, 2015. As the front Hazcam imaged the rover amid a rock field on the “red edge” of Spirit of St. Louis Crater, the Microscopic Imager made a two-frame composite (below right) of a rough target rock. Click the MI image to see a larger version in a new tab.

4064-MIOpportunity raw images, its latest mission status, a location map. and atmospheric opacity, known as tau.

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Curiosity: Hazy day at Marias Pass

1030-mastcam34Sol 1030, June 30, 2015. Looking northeast with its 34mm lens from Marias Pass, Curiosity’s full-color Mastcam records a relentlessly tawny landscape and atmosphere. (Click the image above to load a larger version in a new tab; click here to load a full-size 2.9 MB version.)

Sol 1030 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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THEMIS: Channel and delta

Icaria channel and delta (THEMIS_IOTD_20150701)THEMIS image of the Day, July 1, 2015. This VIS image shows two channels. The channel in the center of the image ends in a crater, where it has created a delta deposit. These unnamed craters and channels are located on the northeastern margin of Icaria Planum.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity: At the contact

1030-navcamSol 1030, June 30, 2015. The Navcam shoots part of Curiosity’s surroundings in Marias Pass, ending up (right side) at the contact between the Pahrump (light tone, lower) and overlying Stimson units. Below are two ChemCam composite closeups showing mineral veins in the targets Lemhi (left) and Lowary. (Click any image to load a larger version in a new tab.)

1030-chemcam11030-chemcam2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sol 1030 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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