Surficial properties in Gale Crater, Mars, from Mars Odyssey THEMIS data

Shannon M. Pelkey, Bruce M. Jakosky, Philip Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine the nature of the surface layer in Gale Crater as determined from high-resolution thermal and visible Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) data as well as how our conclusions compare to past analyses. At THEMIS resolution, the thermal surface structure is dominated by local control, thus providing us with detailed images that contain thermophysical information as well. Using these data sets we have created a map of the area, defining units based primarily on their geomorphology as determined from the daytime thermal and visible images and then using the nighttime thermal data to interpret the nature of the surface layer within each unit. Seven units have been defined: (i) partially blanketed knobby plateaus, (ii) crater walls with terrain similar to that on the plateaus on the upper half and exposed, rocky surfaces on the lower half, (iii)-(v) three floor units with varying combinations of bedrock and indurated and/or particulate deposits, (vi) sand sheets, and (vii) a central mound, consisting of indurated and/or rocky material forming layers, terraces, and slides, covered by particulate material that tapers in thickness downslope. Additionally, dozens of channels have been observed on the crater walls and central mound. The results indicate that aeolian processes have played a major role in shaping much of the present surface layer within Gale and may still be active today. Because of the dramatic size and structure of Gale, the winds are most likely controlled by the local topography. Additionally, the presence and frequency of channels within Gale bolster hypotheses involving aqueous episodes in the history of the crater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-270
Number of pages27
JournalIcarus
Volume167
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2004

Keywords

  • Mars
  • Planets
  • Surface
  • Surfaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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