Mars

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PHOBOS 360
Dec. 20, 2013


Copyright ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

The innermost moon of Mars, Phobos, is seen here in full 360 degree glory. The images were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on ESA’s Mars Express at various times throughout the mission’s 10 years.

The moon’s parallel sets of grooves are perhaps the most striking feature, along with the giant 9 km-wide Stickney impact crater that dominates one face of the 27 x 22 x 18 km moon.

The origin of the moon’s grooves is a subject of much debate. One idea assumes that the crater chains are associated with impact events on the moon itself.

Another idea suggests they result from Phobos moving through streams of debris thrown up from impacts 6000 km away on the surface of Mars, with each ‘family’ of grooves corresponding to a different impact event.

Mars Express has imaged Phobos from a wide range of distances, but will make its closest flyby yet on 29 December 2013, at just 45 km above the moon.

Although this is too close to take images, gravity experiments will give insight into the interior structure of Phobos.

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Martian Geology More Diverse Than Previously Thought
November 18, 2013

Image Caption: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is providing new spectral "windows" into the diversity of Martian surface materials. Here in a volcanic caldera, bright magenta outcrops have a distinctive feldspar-rich composition. Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS

Image Caption: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is providing new spectral “windows” into the diversity of Martian surface materials. Here in a volcanic caldera, bright magenta outcrops have a distinctive feldspar-rich composition. Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

For years, scientists have thought of Mars as being made up of just one kind of rock – a very simplistic planet compared to the diverse geology of Earth.

However, a new study in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests there may be granite on Mars and puts forward a theory for how it could have formed there.

“We’re providing the most compelling evidence to date that Mars has granitic rocks,” said study author James Wray, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The study is based on the large deposit of feldspar, a mineral found in granite, recently found in an inactive Martian volcano. The location of the feldspar suggests protracted magmatic activity under the Martian surface could produce large-scale granite deposits, the study team said.

The Martian surface is mostly covered with basalt, the dark-colored rock commonly found throughout Hawaii. However, in the area around the Martian feldspar deposit, minerals rich in iron and magnesium and common in basalts are almost completely absent.

Continue Learning: http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/1113006200/mars-has-granite-111813/

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New Algorithm Will Help Curiosity Rover Analyze Mars Soil
November 16, 2013

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

While the instruments on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity are able to easily identify the chemical composition of rocks, measure the speed of the wind and snap amazing images from mast-mounted cameras, the process of analyzing soil images can be a somewhat daunting task, according to researchers from Louisiana State University (LSU).

After all, the university points out, many times there are several thousand images to analyze, and the soil particles are typically only five to 10 pixels wide. Now, however, a research team led by Suniti Karunatillake of the LSU Department of Geology and Geophysics has come to the rescue with a new algorithm that should make the task easier.

Karunatillake and colleagues from Rider University, Stony Brook University and the US Geological Survey (USGS) in Flagstaff, Arizona joined forces to create an image analysis and segmentation algorithm specifically to help NASA scientists complete this basic, but nonetheless challenging, part of their mission.

Continue Learning: http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/1113005274/mars-curiosity-algorithm-for-soil-images-111613/

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Dynamics of Ice, Water and Salts in the Martian Subsurface
October 22 2013

Recent discoveries on Mars suggest ice may be or recently was present at latitudes where it is not expected and at unexplained abundance. As ice may be unstable under present Martian climatic conditions, a mechanism may be needed to explain the presence of ice in the near surface at these latitudes. Water release history, chemical composition, and heat fluxes are variable over the surface of Mars, and there could be more than one mechanism responsible for near-surface ice. The purpose of this numerical modeling study is to show that thermochemical circulation of brines in the subsurface of Mars is a possible mechanism that can deposit ice and brine, close to, or even at, the surface of Mars.

Continue Learning: http://www.seti.org/weeky-lecture/dynamics-ice-water-and-salts-martian-subsurface

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