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MARS. 3.934 g/cm 3 Similar to Earth Viewing Mars The best Earth-based views of Mars are obtained when Mars is simultaneously at opposition and near perihelion.

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Presentation on theme: "MARS. 3.934 g/cm 3 Similar to Earth Viewing Mars The best Earth-based views of Mars are obtained when Mars is simultaneously at opposition and near perihelion."— Presentation transcript:


2 3.934 g/cm 3 Similar to Earth

3 Viewing Mars The best Earth-based views of Mars are obtained when Mars is simultaneously at opposition and near perihelion Earth-based observations of Mars are best made during favorable oppositions

4 Earth-based Observations A solar day on Mars is nearly the same length as on Earth Mars has polar caps that expand and shrink with the seasons The Martian surface undergoes seasonal color changes

5 Canals? A few observers reported a network of linear features called canals These observations, which proved to be illusions, led to many speculations about Martian life Earth-based observations were once thought to show evidence of intelligent life on Mars

6 Tales of Canals and Life on Mars Early observers (Schiaparelli, Lowell) believed to see canals on Mars This, together with growth/shrinking of polar cap, sparked imagination and sci-fi tales of life on Mars. We know today: “canals” were optical illusion; do not exist! No evidence of life on Mars.

7 Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mars is the first adventure of John Carter, a Civil War veteran who unexpectedly find himself transplanted to the planet Mars. Yet this red planet is far more than a dusty, barren place; it's a fantasy world populated with giant green barbarians, beautiful maidens in distress, and weird flora and monstrous fauna the likes of which could only exist in the author's boundless imagination.

8 Wells and Welles 1938 1898

9 Seasons of Mars

10 Seasons of Mars (2)

11 Ice in the Polar Cap Polar cap contains mostly CO 2 ice, but also water. Multiple ice regions separated by valleys free of ice. Boundaries of polar caps reveal multiple layers of dust, left behind by repeated growth and melting of polar-cap regions.

12 Ice in the Polar Caps Left: Southern polar cap, mostly carbon dioxide Right: Northern polar cap, mostly water Both images taken during local summer

13 Ice in the Polar Cap (2) Here we see cliffs which are almost 2 kilometers high, and the dark material in the caldera-like structures and dune fields could be volcanic ash. These two images of the Martian north polar ice cap show layers of water ice and dust for the first time in perspective view. The close-up view (right) is the upper right section of the image above.

14 On February 19, 2008, while monitoring the edge of Mars' north polar cap for changes as the spring thaw arrives, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was fortunate to catch several avalanches in the act of spilling down the steep slope at the edge of the cap. Two avalanches are visible in this image, one large one near the top and a smaller one near the bottom. The cap is to the left; its steep cliff, running across the center of the image from top to bottom, is approximately 700 meters tall and reaches slopes as steep as 60 degrees. The steep part of the cliff is composed of layered material (the layers are difficult to see in this image) made mostly of water ice with atmospheric dust mixed in. To the right of the image, the cliff flattens out into a still moderate slope of about 20 degrees; this part of the cliff probably has a higher proportion of sand and dust in layers interspersed with ice-rich layers. The avalanches kicked up billowing clouds of dust that rise high into the air, casting shadows to their lower left. Credit: NASA / JPL / U. Arizona

15 The last image shows two of the four avalanch es the HiRISE team spotted in the full image; here's a third.

16 The Geography of Mars

17 The Geology of Mars (2) Northern Lowlands: Free of craters; probably re-surfaced a few billion years ago. Southern Highlands: Heavily cratered; probably 2 – 3 billion years old. Possibly once filled with water.

18 The Geology of Mars Giant volcanoes Valleys Impact craters Vallis Marineris Reddish deserts of broken rock, probably smashed by meteorite impacts.

19 Valles Marineris huge canyon, created by crustal forces Top right: Grand Canyon on same scale 4000 km long Maximum 120 km wide, 7 km deep

20 Volcanism on Mars Volcanoes on Mars are shield volcanoes. Olympus Mons: Highest and largest volcano in the solar system.

21 Volcanism on Mars (2) Tharsis rise (volcanic bulge): Nearly as large as the U.S. Rises ~ 10 km above mean radius of Mars. Rising magma has repeatedly broken through crust to form volcanoes.

22 Water on Mars Was there running water on Mars? Runoff channels resemble those on Earth. Left: Mars Right: Louisiana

23 Hidden Water on Mars No liquid water on the surface: Would evaporate due to low pressure. But evidence for liquid water in the past: Outflow channels from sudden, massive floods Collapsed structures after withdrawal of sub-surface water Splash craters and valleys resembling meandering river beds Gullies, possibly from debris flows Central channel in a valley suggests long-term flowing water Ancient riverbeds Teardrop islands

24 Hidden Water on Mars (3) Echus Chasma is the source region of the Kasei Valles channel. This perspective image shows that liquid water was present on the surface of Mars thousands of millions of years ago. Gigantic waterfalls poured over the 4000- meter high cliffs, and fed a lake in the valley. Later, when the planet became cooler, the lakes froze and glaciers formed, carving the giant Kasei Valles. Perspective view of Echus Chasma

25 Hidden Water on Mars (2) The image above is Kasei Valles, one of the largest outflow channels on Mars, and contains a lot of evidence for glacial and fluvial activity over much of the planet's history. The scour marks in the valley, shown in the image on the right, are most likely due to glacial erosion than by water erosion.

26 Hidden Water on Mars (4) Gusev Crater and Ma’adim Vallis: Giant lakes might have drained repeatedly through the Ma’adim Vallis into the crater.

27 Water on Mars? Recently, gullies have been seen that seem to indicate the presence of liquid water; interpretation is still in doubt This set of images shows a comparison of the gully site as it appeared on Dec. 22, 2001 (left), with a mosaic of two images acquired after the change occurred (the two images are from Aug. 26, 2005, and Sept. 25, 2005). Image credit: NASA/JPL

28 Water on Mars? Recently, gullies have been seen that seem to indicate the presence of liquid water; interpretation is still in doubt

29 Subsurface Water? In this false-color map of Mars, soil enriched in hydrogen is indicated by deep blue. Source: the neutron spectrometer onboard NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft.

30 Evidence for Water on Mars Large impacts may have ejected rocks into space. Galle, the “happy face crater” Meteorite ALH84001: Identified as ancient rock from Mars. Some minerals in this meteorite were deposited in water  Martian crust must have been richer in water than it is today.

31 Ancient Oceans? Among the important findings of Surveyor, based on altimetry and photographs were: The border between two geologically dissimilar areas in the northern lowlands is nearly level in elevation, suggesting an ancient coastline. The topography below this possible shoreline is much smoother than that of the region above at higher altitudes, which is consistent with smoothing by sedimentation. The volume of the putative sea is within the range of previous estimates of water on Mars. A series of terraces run parallel to the apparent shoreline, bolstering the idea of receding waters. Low areas bear what appear to be mud cracks, like those in dry terrestrial lake beds. Scars from impact craters suggest ground water or ice in the northern lowlands is near the surface.

32 The Atmosphere of Mars Very thin: Only 1% of pressure on Earth’s surface 95 % CO 2 Even thin Martian atmosphere evident through haze and clouds covering the planet Occasionally: Strong dust storms that can enshroud the entire planet. Atmosphere probably initially produced through outgassing.

33 Dust Storms

34 Clouds Above Mars’ Mountains

35 The Atmosphere of Mars (2) Most of the Oxygen bound in oxides in rocks  Reddish color of the surface

36 The Martian Atmosphere Martian atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, and very thin Too thin to retain much heat; temperature drops sharply at night

37 The Martian Atmosphere Mars may be victim of runaway greenhouse effect in the opposite sense of Venus’s: As water ice froze, Mars became more and more reflective and its atmosphere thinner and thinner, freezing more and more water and eventually carbon dioxide as well.

38 Earth and Mars began with similar atmospheres that evolved very differently Mars’s primordial atmosphere may have been thicker and warmer than the present-day atmosphere It is unclear whether it contained enough carbon dioxide and water vapor to support a greenhouse effect that would permit liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface The present Martian atmosphere is composed mostly of carbon dioxide The atmospheric pressure on the surface is less than 1% that of the Earth and shows seasonal variations as carbon dioxide freezes onto and evaporates from the poles

39 Mars Atmosphere

40 Why did the climate change? Thicker atmosphere lost? –To polar caps –To rocks –To space Water lost –Subsurface –Broken by UV and H lost to space while O went to rocks… rusty! Change of axis tilt (varies 0°-60°)

41 Life on Mars? Many searches have been done for life on Mars, but none has been found. In 1996, scientists claimed to have found such evidence in an Antarctic meteoroid from Mars, but this did not hold up.

42 Martian Internal Structure No seismic studies have been done From behavior of crust, it is estimated to be 100 km thick No magnetic field, so core is probably nonmetallic, nonliquid, or both

43 The Moons of Mars Mars has two tiny moons: Deimos (left, 16 km × 10 km) (appears 1/15 D ☾ ) Phobos (right, 28 km × 20 km) (appears 1/2 D ☾ ) (revolves faster than Mars rotates) (spiraling in) Both are tidally locked and were probably captured from the asteroid belt.

44 Mars Missions 2001 2001 Mars Odyssey - 7 April 2001 - Mars Orbiter 2002 2003 Mars Express - 2 June 2003 - Mars Orbiter and Lander Spirit (MER-A) - 10 June 2003 - Mars Rover Opportunity (MER-B) - 7 July 2003 - Mars Rover 2004 2005 Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter - 10 August 2005 - Mars Orbiter 2006 2007 Phoenix - Late 2007 - Small Mars Scout Lander 2008 2009 Mars 2009 - Late 2009 - Mars Science Laboratory Rover 2010 2001 Mars Odyssey Mars Express Spirit (MER-A) Opportunity (MER-B) Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter Phoenix Mars 2009


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