Do ice-squeezed aquifers cause marsquakes?

PIA19839-e1561406525171As the Mars InSight lander begins listening to the interior of Mars, some scientists are already proposing that some marsquakes could be signals of groundwater beneath the frozen surface of the Red Planet. 

The idea, proposed by Michael Manga, a planetary scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, and his colleagues, is that Mars could be experiencing quakes a lot like those being felt in Oklahoma and Texas due to wastewater injections from fracking.

On Earth, water from fracking is injected deep into the ground where it increases the pressure in the pores — tiny spaces between the grains that make up the ground. That pressure can loosen up faults and cause them to slip and send vibrations — the shaking of an earthquake — far and wide. 

On Mars, it might also be about the pore pressure, said Manga, who is the lead author of a paper describing their hypothesis in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters. But instead of fracking, Manga proposes that the wintry temperatures of Mars’s surface might penetrate downward into liquid groundwater, freezing the top layers of groundwater and compressing the still-liquid groundwater below. That pressurized groundwater could be loosening faults on Mars and causing just the sorts of shallow marsquakes that have already been detected by the Insight lander, he said. [More at links]

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Curiosity update: Brushing Beauly and beholding Balnakettle

2441MH0001900010901453C00_DXXXSol 2443, June 20, 2019, update by MSL scientist Abigail Fraeman: Curiosity is still parked at a tilt of a little over 23˚ to examine the outcrop on top of “Teal Ridge.” While the science team begins to pore over all the data that came down yesterday and today, we also simultaneously developed a busy plan for today that will continue our investigation of this spectacular sedimentary outcrop.

The main activities in the sol 2443 plan will be a DRT, MAHLI, and APXS observation of a finely layered target named “Beauly,” which was imaged with MAHLI on sol 2441. We will also take a MAHLI and APXS observation of a second target named “Balnakettle.” Outside of the contact science observations, Curiosity will take two change detection images of a target called “Sandyhills,” and a 10×2 stereo… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Along a scarp

ESP_054926_2025Along a scarp. All along this section of scarp of a canyon in Kasei Valles, there appears to be a lobe-shaped margin of something (lava? mud? flood sediments?) that flowed into this trough, coated the floor and subsequently drained. What’s the story?

HiRISE Picture of the Day archive. [More at links]

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THEMIS: Cyane Fossae on Alba Mons

Cyane Fossae on Alba Mons (THEMIS_IOTD_20190621)THEMIS Image of the Day, June 21, 2019. This VIS image shows lava flows from Alba Mons, and a tectonic graben called Cyane Fossae.

It is thought that the linear depressions that surround Alba Mons were created by a huge volcanic eruption followed by the collapse of the volcano into the underlying empty magma chamber.

Explore more THEMIS Images of the Day by geological subject.

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Mars 2020 rover gets its wheels

PIA23269_hiresIn this image, taken on June 13, 2019, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, install the starboard legs and wheels – otherwise known as the mobility suspension – on the Mars 2020 rover. They installed the port suspension later that day.

“Now that’s a Mars rover,” said David Gruel, the Mars 2020 assembly, test, and launch operations manager at JPL. “With the suspension on, not only does it look like a rover, but we have almost all our big-ticket items for integration in our rearview mirror – if our rover had one.”

Within the next few weeks, the team expects to install the vehicle’s robotic arm, the mast-mounted SuperCam instrument and the Sample Caching System, which includes 17 separate motors and will collect samples of Martian rock and soil that will be returned to Earth by a future mission. [More at link]

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A rover for Phobos and Deimos

Rover_Phobos_V5_-artistview_xlMars has two small moons, Phobos and Deimos. These are the target of the Japanese Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, which also involves international partners. Scheduled for launch in 2024, it will enter Mars orbit in 2025, and return samples to Earth in 2029. The spacecraft will carry a German-French rover that will land on either Phobos or Deimos and explore the surface in detail for several months. The scientists hope to gain new insights into the formation and evolution of the Solar System.

At the International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the Japanese space agency JAXA and the French space agency CNES agreed to further collaborate on the world’s first exploration of a minor Solar System body with a rover.

“The world-first exploration of the Martian moons with a rover is a major technical challenge that we are tackling within the framework of our strong and proven partnership with Japan and France,” says Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. “Together, we want to push the boundaries of what is technically feasible in robotic exploration and expand our knowledge about the origin of the Solar System.” [More at link]

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Latest weather at Gale Crater and Elysium Planitia

Daily Elysium charts and data (temperature, wind speed, atmospheric pressure) here.

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HiRISE: Mind your deposit

ESP_054924_2125Mind your deposit. The CRISM instrument on MRO (a spectrometer) has detected clay deposits here that is a very uncommon sedimentary setting.

HiRISE Picture of the Day archive. [More at links]

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THEMIS: Shalbatana Vallis

Shalbatana Vallis (THEMIS_IOTD_20190620)THEMIS Image of the Day, June 20, 2019. Today’s VIS image shows a section of Shalbatana Vallis. Along side of the major channel is a smaller tributary channel. A landslide deposit is also visible in this image.

Explore more THEMIS Images of the Day by geological subject.

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Curiosity: On Teal Ridge

2441MH0001900010901453C00_DXXXFRB_614208460EDR_F0760988FHAZ00206M_Sol 2441, June 19, 2019. Curiosity is placed so that mission scientists can examine the outcrop closely. At right are the views from the front Hazcam view and Navcam.

NRB_614208501EDR_F0760988NCAM00207M_Above is a Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) frame showing regular layers in the outcrop, and below is a MAHLI closeup of a different area on the outcrop. Click any image to enlarge it.

Sol 2441 raw images (from all cameras).

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