Mars Research


 

Remote Sensing for Mars Research

The seasonal polar ice caps are a major element of the current Mars’ climate and circulation. Understanding the sublimation and condensation of CO2 and H2O is a key to understanding recent, current, and future Martian climate and their seasonal changes. The impact craters or crater-like features at the seasonal polar cap regions, especially those associated with high-albedo deposits/events (HAEs) of ice and frost observed in late spring to summer seasons, have provided a good opportunity to study H2O and CO2 condensation and sublimation.

The wet and warm conditions of early Mars imply that life might have emerged, and may still be present on Mars (Schulze-Makuch and Irwin, 2004). Thus, any site associated with liquid water may also harbour the potential for life on Mars. The hydrologic history of Mars has been reconstructed from a variety of indicators, which include: 1) geomorphology such as shorelines, gullies, channels, valleys and alluvial fans; 2) sedimentary structures such as layered deposits, cross bedding, and layered evaporites; and 3) mineralogy such as hydrated phyllosilicates, hydrated sulphates and other hydroxide minerals. The presence of hydrated minerals on Mars provides a record of water-related processes. Hydrated sulphates have been observed with the OMEGA, in numerous light-toned layered deposits in Valles Mariners, Aram Chaos, and Terra Meridiani (Gendri et al. 2005) and in deposits adjacent to the north polar cap (Langevin et al. 2005). Observations of variety of sulphates in layered rocks in Terra Meridiani also required an active hydrologic system to account for these deposits (Squyers et al. 2004).

Objectives

The goals of the LRSG group for the Mars study, supported by UTSA, NASA/Texas Space Grant, and Chinese NSF, are to study:

  1. Martian polar ice caps and their climate and biological implications
  2. Implication of Martian gullies formation and possible water relation
  3. Implication of phyllosilicates, hydrated sulphates, and chloride bearing regions for liquid water and possible bio-signature on Mars