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Melas Dorsa Reveals A Complex Geological History On Mars


ESA’s Mars Express has imaged an area to the south of the famed Valles Marineris canyon on the Red Planet, showing a wide range of tectonic and impact features.

On 17 April, the orbiter pointed its high-resolution stereo camera at the Melas Dorsa region of Mars. This area sits in the volcanic highlands of Mars between Sinai and Thaumasia Plana, 250 km south of Melas Chasma. Melas Chasma itself is part of the Valles Marineris rift system.

The image captures wrinkle ridges, some unusual intersecting faults and an elliptical crater surrounded by ejecta in the shape of a butterfly and with a strange ‘fluid-like’ appearance.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM26D2VW3H_index_0.html

Exhumed Rocks Reveal Mars Water Ran Deep


By studying rocks blasted out of impact craters, ESA’s Mars Express has found evidence that underground water persisted at depth for prolonged periods during the first billion years of the Red Planet’s existence.

Impact craters are natural windows into the history of planetary surfaces – the deeper the crater, the further back in time you can probe.

In addition, rocks blasted out during the impact offer a chance to study material that once lay hidden beneath the surface.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMKT91VW3H_index_0.html

Mars Crater Shows Evidence For Climate Evolution


ESA’s Mars Express has provided images of a remarkable crater on Mars that may show evidence that the planet underwent significant periodic fluctuations in its climate due to changes in its rotation axis.

On 19 June 2011, Mars Express pointed its high-resolution stereo camera at the Arabia Terra region of Mars, imaging the Danielson and Kalocsa craters.

Danielson crater, like many in the Arabia Terra region, is filled with layered sediments, which in this instance have been heavily eroded over time. Within the crater are peculiarly layered buttes, known as yardangs.

Yardangs are streamlined hills carved from bedrock or any consolidated or semi-consolidated material by abrasive dust and sand particles carried in the wind.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMD285XX2H_index_0.html

Earth’s Magnetic Field Provides Vital Protection

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

A chance alignment of planets during a passing gust of the solar wind has allowed scientists to compare the protective effects of Earth’s magnetic field with that of Mars’ naked atmosphere. The result is clear: Earth’s magnetic field is vital for keeping our atmosphere in place.

The alignment took place on 6 January 2008. Using ESA’s Cluster and Mars Express missions to provide data from Earth and Mars, respectively, scientists compared the loss of oxygen from the two planets’ atmospheres as the same stream of solar wind hit them. This allowed a direct evaluation of the effectiveness of Earth’s magnetic field in protecting our atmosphere.

They found that while the pressure of the solar wind increased at each planet by similar amounts, the increase in the rate of loss of martian oxygen was ten times that of Earth’s increase.

Such a difference would have a dramatic impact over billions of years, leading to large losses of the martian atmosphere, perhaps explaining or at least contributing to its current tenuous state.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMXWW7YBZG_index_0.html

Mars Express Radar Gives Strong Evidence for Former Ocean

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Image Credits: ESA, C. Carreau

Image Credits: ESA, C. Carreau

ESA’s Mars Express has returned strong evidence for an ocean once covering part of Mars. Using radar, it has detected sediments reminiscent of an ocean floor within the boundaries of previously identified, ancient shorelines on Mars.

The MARSIS radar was deployed in 2005 and has been collecting data ever since. Jérémie Mouginot, Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG) and the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues have analysed more than two years of data and found that the northern plains are covered in low-density material.

“We interpret these as sedimentary deposits, maybe ice-rich,” says Dr Mouginot. “It is a strong new indication that there was once an ocean here.”

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMVINVX7YG_index_0.html

Mars Rover to Spend Winter at ‘Greeley Haven’

January 6, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity will spend the next few months during the coldest part of Martian winter at Greeley Haven, an outcrop of rock on Mars recently named informally to honor ASU Regents’ Professor Ronald Greeley, a planetary geology who died Oct. 27, 2011.

Long passionate about exploring the solar system and Mars in particular, Greeley was involved with many missions to the Red Planet, including Mariners 6, 7, and 9, Viking, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, and the two Mars Exploration Rovers. He was also a co-investigator for the camera system on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter mission. Among his major research interests were wind erosion, dunes, and dust devil activity, all of which can be found in abundance on Mars.

Full Story: http://asunews.asu.edu/20120105_greeley_haven

Clusters of Recent Craters in Mars’s Ares Vallis

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Newly released images taken by ESA’s Mars Express show an unusual accumulation of young craters in the large outflow channel called Ares Vallis. Older craters have been reduced to ghostly outlines by the scouring effects of ancient water.

In the distant past, probably over 3.8 billion years ago, large volumes of water must have rushed through the Ares Vallis with considerable force. Mars Express imaged the preserved aftermath of this scene on 11 May 2011.

The prominent Oraibi crater lies in the channel and is about 32 km across. It is filled with sediments and its southern rim has been eroded by water. NASA’s Pathfinder mission landed in this region in 1997, 100 km to the north of the crater and off the right-hand side of this image.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMGJB9U7TG_index_0.html