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as4 - Surface Exploration of Mars Past Future Martian...

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8 Sept 2003 Solar System - C. C. Lang 1 Surface Exploration of Mars: Past & Future Martian Meteorites Martian Moons Martian Surface Exploration The Viking Landers (early 80s) Pathfinder (1997) Current Surface Explorers (three en route!) Future of Martian Exploration (“astrobiology”) Review of Mars
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8 Sept 2003 Solar System - C. C. Lang 2 What are these “meteorites”? Martian Meteorites Why aren’t they orange – the color of Mars surface? How did they get to Earth? How do we know these meteorites are from Mars? Martian data without going there! Unusual rocks found in Antarctica An impact on Mars (crater size: 10-100 km) ejected part of the Martian surface Chemical composition does not match usual meteorites Only 1.3 billion yrs old (most asteroid-type meteorites MUCH older); Higher content of volatile substances Has to do with how the rocks weathered
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8 Sept 2003 Solar System - C. C. Lang 3 Case Study: Martian Rock ALH84001 Mass = 1.9 kg Igneous Rock Discovered in Antarctica (easier to find) 1984 Formed on Mars 4.5 Billion yr ago Ejected ~16 Million yr ago Landed ~13,000 yr ago What DO they tell us? What DON’T they tell us? - Physical processes on Mars Crust/core developed early in Solar System Volcanism until < 1 Billion Years ago - Chemical composition Different than normal asteroid (meteorite) comp. Interaction with water Martian atmosphere composition - Location of origin (on Mars – which part of surface?) - Enough about Mars’ water & atmosphere - Need to actually RETURN ROCKS from Mars!!
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8 Sept 2003 Solar System - C. C. Lang 4 Globules of carbonate minerals (the yellow-orange grains) are scattered along cracks in this small chip of ALH 84001. The rims contain iron oxides (including magnetite) and iron sulfides--incompatible minerals that on Earth would suggest microbial action Controversial – microbial presence in meteorites?? Close up views reveal structure similar to Earth microbes?
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