HiRISE: Massif beauty

ESP_054939_1655-2Massif beauty. We have two simple objectives with this image: to fill in gaps of coverage of this area in Coprates Chasma and to look for colorful slopes of mafic materials. (“Mafic” refers to a silicate mineral or igneous rock that is rich in magnesium and iron.)

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

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THEMIS: Patterns on patterns in the Olympia Undae dunes

Patterns on patterns in Olympia Undae (THEMIS_IOTD_20190719)THEMIS Image of the Day, July 19, 2019. Today’s VIS image shows a small portion of Olympia Undae. Olympia Undae is a large dune field that dominates the plains along part of the north polar cap. This image was collected during the northern summer season, when the dunes were frost-free.

Note the different patterns in the dunes, perhaps a result of seasonal shifts in the predominant winds.

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Did the Lomonosov Crater impact create a mega-tsunami?

figure_2[Editor’s note: From a paper by François Costard and eight co-authors recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.]

The Lomonosov Crater Impact Event: A Possible Mega‐Tsunami Source on Mars

• Unusual morphometric characteristics of Lomonosov crater in comparison to the other northern complex craters
• Lomonosov crater was probably due to the presence of a shallow ocean of liquid water at the time of the impact
• Agreement of the Lomonosov age with that of the Thumbprint Terrain unit (~3 Ga) suggests that it was the source crater of the tsunami

Recent research suggests that major meteorite impact events into a Late Hesperian/Early Amazonian ocean likely produced a mega‐tsunami that would have resurfaced coastal areas in northwestern Arabia Terra.

The orientations of the associated lobate deposits, a conspicuous type of landforms called Thumbprint Terrain, suggests that if an impact event triggered the mega‐tsunami, the most likely location of the source crater is within the northern plains regions situated north of Arabia Terra. This study focuses on the identification of impact craters that impacted into the ocean and are likely to have produced the tsunami.

We selected 10 complex impact craters, based on their diameters, location, and geomorphic characteristics. Of those, the Late Hesperian ~120‐km‐diameter Lomonosov crater exhibits a unique topographic plan view asymmetry (compared to other similar‐sized and similar‐aged craters in the northern plains such as Micoud, Korolev, and Milankovic). We attribute its broad and shallow rim, in part, to an impact into a shallow ocean as well as its subsequent erosion from the collapsing transient water cavity.

The likely marine formation of the Lomonosov crater, and the apparent agreement in its age with that of the Thumbprint Terrain unit (~3 Ga), strongly suggests that it was the source crater of the tsunami. These results have implications for the stability of a late northern ocean on Mars. [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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Gale Crater’s late alluvial activity

figure-1[Editor’s note: From a paper by John Grant and Sharon Wilson recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research; related story here.]

Evidence for Late Alluvial Activity in Gale Crater, Mars

• Local alluvial deposits in Gale crater were likely emplaced less than 2 Ga, postdating more widespread water‐related deposits in Gale
• Water associated with the younger alluvial deposits may be related to late‐occurring diagenetic activity
• Alluvial deposits formed when Aeolis Mons achieved its present expression, suggesting late‐occurring habitable conditions within Gale

Several fan‐shaped deposits on the walls and floor of Gale crater formed via deposition of water transported sediment. Overall, the fan deposits are fairly well preserved, and the number of impact craters on their surfaces indicate they are much younger (~2 billion years old or less) relative to the older, more widespread water‐related deposits that formed in the crater over 3 billion years ago.

The late episode(s) of water‐related activity in Gale crater may be associated with late‐occurring chemical precipitation within and (or) cementation of older rocks within the crater and suggests that habitable conditions persisted inside the crater later than previously thought. [More at link]

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Curiosity: Mastcam, near and far

2468-mastcam34-nearSol 2468, July 17, 2019. The wide-angle (34mm) Mastcam shot an outcrop next to Curiosity that shows layered sediments on the left and a different texture on the right. Below is a five-frame sequence looking toward a local rise and what appears to be a small, partly filled impact crater. Click either image to enlarge it.

Sol 2468 raw images (from all cameras).

2468-mastcam34-far

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HiRISE: Proctor Crater dune field

ESP_054936_1325Proctor Crater dune field. The dune field here in Proctor Crater is about 35 x 65 kilometers in size, and was one of the first sand dune fields ever recognized on Mars based on Mariner 9 images.

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

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THEMIS: Channels on the edge of Arabia Terra

Channels on the edge of Arabia Terra (THEMIS_IOTD_20190718)THEMIS Image of the Day, July 18, 2019. This VIS image is located on the margin of Arabia Terra and Acidalia Planitia.

The channel features were created by fluids running from the highland of Arabia Terra into the lower elevations of Acidalia Planitia.

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Curiosity update: A way to spend a day at Solway

NLB_616597178EDR_F0762194NCAM00353M_-br2Sols 2470-71, July 17, 2019, update by MSL scientist Scott Guzewich: Today, Curiosity finds itself parked in front of a fascinating area of martian bedrock with clearly lighter and darker colored areas next to each other as seen in the Navcam image above. This will be a “full” contact science location and the rover will spend the next few sols examining the rocks in this immediate area just in front of the Southern Outcrop. A target on the lighter-colored bedrock was termed “Solway Firth” and it will get a ChemCam LIBS target and the full dust-removal tool treatment before APXS and MAHLI observations. The second contact science location (without the dust removal) will be “Nith”… [More at link]

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Mars 2020 rover: T-minus one year and counting

PIA23311-16The launch period for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover opens exactly one year from today, July 17, 2020, and extends through Aug. 5, 2020. The mission will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and land at Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

“Back when we started this project in 2013, we came up with a timeline to chart mission progress,” said John McNamee, Mars 2020 project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “That every single major spacecraft component on a project with this level of innovation is synching right now with that timeline is a testament to the innovation and perseverance of a great team.”

In this image, taken on July 11, 2019, engineers at JPL install a sensor-filled turret on the end of the rover’s 7-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) robotic arm. The rover’s turret includes HD cameras, the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC) science instrument, the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), and a percussive drill and coring mechanism… [More at link]

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