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Filters: Tags: Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets (X) > partyWithName: Kenneth E. Herkenhoff (X)

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The Microscopic Imager (MI) on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has returned images of Mars with higher resolution than any previous camera system, allowing detailed petrographic and sedimentological studies of the rocks and soils at the Meridiani Planum landing site. Designed to simulate a geologist's hand lens, the MI is mounted on Opportunity's instrument arm and can resolve objects 0.1 mm across or larger. This paper provides an overview of MI operations, data calibration, and analysis of MI data returned during the first 900 sols (Mars days) of the Opportunity landed mission. Analyses of Opportunity MI data have helped to resolve major questions about the origin of observed textures and features. These...
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Excavating into the shallow Martian subsurface has the potential to expose stratigraphic layers and mature regolith, which may hold a record of more ancient aqueous interactions than those expected under current Martian surface conditions. During the Spirit rover's exploration of Gusev crater, rover wheels were used to dig three trenches into the subsurface regolith down to 6-11 cm depth: Road Cut, the Big Hole, and The Boroughs. A high oxidation state of Fe and high concentrations of Mg, S, Cl, and Br were found in the subsurface regolith within the two trenches on the plains, between the Bonneville crater and the foot of Columbia Hills. Data analyses on the basis of geochemistry and mineralogy observations suggest...
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Processes, environments, and the energy associated with the transport and deposition of sand at Gusev Crater are characterized at the microscopic scale through the comparison of statistical moments for particle size and shape distributions. Bivariate and factor analyses define distinct textural groups at 51 sites along the traverse completed by the Spirit rover as it crossed the plains and went into the Columbia Hills. Fine-to-medium sand is ubiquitous in ripples and wind drifts. Most distributions show excess fine material, consistent with a predominance of wind erosion over the last 3.8 billion years. Negative skewness at West Valley is explained by the removal of fine sand during active erosion, or alternatively,...
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Congruous with earlier work, Martian soil along the Spirit Rover's traverse at Gusev crater can be divided into three broad groups by size: fines (<150 μm), sand, and a mix of various grain sizes. The key chemical observation is greater homogeneity in fines relative to the other two, consistent with regional‐ and global‐scale sampling of chemical compositions by finer particle sizes. The mix class is generally more heterogeneous as are samples from the Columbia Hills within each class. Variation in the trace element Ni is consistent with a CI contribution not exceeding 3%, while that of Ti is compatible with Fe‐Ti oxide enrichment not exceeding 3%. Physical mixing models are poorly supported. Among many potential...
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In January 2004 the Mars Exploration Rover mission will land two rovers at two different landing sites that show possible evidence for past liquid‐water activity. The spacecraft design is based on the Mars Pathfinder configuration for cruise and entry, descent, and landing. Each of the identical rovers is equipped with a science payload of two remote‐sensing instruments that will view the surrounding terrain from the top of a mast, a robotic arm that can place three instruments and a rock abrasion tool on selected rock and soil samples, and several onboard magnets and calibration targets. Engineering sensors and components useful for science investigations include stereo navigation cameras, stereo hazard cameras...
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Viking infrared thermal mapping and bistatic radar data suggest that the bulk density of the north polar erg material is much lower than that of the average Martian surface or of dark dunes at lower latitudes. We have derived a thermal inertia of 245–280 J m−2 s−1/2 K−1 (5.9–6.7×10−3 cal cm−2 s−1/2 K−1) for the Proctor dune field and 25–150 J m−2 s−1/2 K−1 (0.6–3.6×10−3cal cm−2 s−1/2 K−1) for the north polar erg. The uniqueness of the thermophysical properties of the north polar erg material may be due to a unique polar process that has created them. The visible and near‐infrared spectral reflectance of the erg suggests that the dark material may be composed of basalt or ferrous clays. These data are consistent...
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The Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) was used to observe several objects during the Martian night. The satellites, Phobos and Deimos, were observed on two occasions each, through the IMP geological filters covering the wavelength range 440 nm to 1 μm. The observations were converted to geometric albedo using triaxial ellipsoid models of the satellites and phase functions derived from Viking Orbiter images. The spectral slopes over the full wavelength range were 7.9(±0.5)% (100 nm)−1 and 9.6(±0.6)% (100 nm)−1, respectively, referenced to 600 nm. In the Deimos spectra, some evidence for decreased reddening toward the trailing hemisphere was found. The geometric albedoes of Phobos and Deimos were found to be 0.065...
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Using the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, we have compiled one of the first field geologic maps on Mars while traversing the Noachian terrain along the rim of the 22 km diameter Endeavour Crater (Latitude −2°16′33″, Longitude −5°10′51″). In situ mapping of the petrographic, elemental, structural, and stratigraphic characteristics of outcrops and rocks distinguishes four mappable bedrock lithologic units. Three of these rock units predate the surrounding Burns formation sulfate-rich sandstones and one, the Matijevic Formation, represents conditions on early Mars predating the formation of Endeavour Crater. The stratigraphy assembled from these observations includes several geologic unconformities. The differences...
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Chemical, mineralogic, and lithologic ground truth was acquired for the first time on Mars in terrain units mapped using orbital Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (MRO HiRISE) image data. Examination of several dozen outcrops shows that Mars is geologically complex at meter length scales, the record of its geologic history is well exposed, stratigraphic units may be identified and correlated across significant areas on the ground, and outcrops and geologic relationships between materials may be analyzed with techniques commonly employed in terrestrial field geology. Despite their burial during the course of Martian geologic time by widespread epiclastic materials, mobile fines,...
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The Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) windsock experiment measured wind speeds at three heights within 1.2 m of the Martian surface during Pathfinder landed operations. These wind data allowed direct measurement of near-surface wind profiles on Mars for the first time, including determination of aerodynamic roughness length and wind friction speeds. Winds were light during periods of windsock imaging, but data from the strongest breezes indicate aerodynamic roughness length of 3 cm at the landing site, with wind friction speeds reaching 1 m/s. Maximum wind friction speeds were about half of the threshold-of-motion friction speeds predicted for loose, fine-grained materials on smooth Martian terrain and about one...
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The Microscopic Imager (MI) on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has returned images of Mars with higher resolution than any previous camera system, allowing detailed petrographic and sedimentological studies of the rocks and soils at the Gusev landing site. Designed to simulate a geologist's hand lens, the MI is mounted on Spirit's instrument arm and can resolve objects 0.1 mm in size or larger. This paper provides an overview of MI operations, data calibration, processing, and analysis of MI data returned during the first 450 sols (Mars days) of the Spirit landed mission. The primary goal of this paper is to facilitate further analyses of MI data by summarizing the methods used to acquire and process the data,...
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Each Mars Exploration Rover carries an integrated suite of scientific instruments and tools called the Athena science payload. The primary objective of the Athena science investigation is to explore two sites on the Martian surface where water may once have been present, and to assess past environmental conditions at those sites and their suitability for life. The remote sensing portion of the payload uses a mast called the Pancam Mast Assembly (PMA) that provides pointing for two instruments: the Panoramic Camera (Pancam), and the Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini‐TES). Pancam provides high‐resolution, color, stereo imaging, while Mini‐TES provides spectral cubes at mid‐infrared wavelengths. For in‐situ...
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The stratigraphy of the layered deposits of the polar regions of Mars is theorized to contain a record of recent climate change linked to insolation changes driven by variations in the planet's orbital and rotational parameters. In order to confidently link stratigraphic signals to insolation periodicities, a description of the stratigraphy is required based on quantities that directly relate to intrinsic properties of the layers. We use stereo Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) to derive a characteristic of North Polar Layered Deposits (NPLD) strata that can be correlated over large distances: the topographic protrusion of layers exposed in troughs, which...
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Gusev crater was selected as the landing site for Spirit on the basis of morphological evidence of long-lasting water activity, including possibly fluvial and lacustrine episodes. From the Columbia Memorial Station to the Columbia Hills, Spirit's traverse provides a journey back in time, from relatively recent volcanic plains showing little evidence for aqueous processes up to the older hills, where rock and soil composition are drastically different. For the first 156 sols, the only evidence of water action was weathering rinds, vein fillings, and soil crust cementation by salts. The trenches of Sols 112-145 marked the first significant findings of increased concentrations of sulfur and magnesium varying in parallel,...
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Irvine, Backstay, and Wishstone are the type specimens for three classes of fine-grained or fragmental, relatively unaltered rocks with distinctive thermal emission spectra, found as float on the flanks of the Columbia Hills. Chemical analyses indicate that these rocks are mildly alkaline basalt, trachybasalt, and tephrite, respectively. Their mineralogy consists of Na- and K-rich feldspar(s), low- and high-Ca pyroxenes, ferroan olivine, Fe-Ti (and possibly Cr) oxides, phosphate, and possibly glass. The texture of Wishstone is consistent with a pyroclastic origin, whereas Irvine and Backstay are lavas or possibly dike rocks. Chemical compositions of these rocks plot on or near liquid lines of descent for most elements...
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A total of 3140 individual particles were examined in 31 soils along Spirit's traverse. Their size, shape, and texture were quantified and classified. They represent a unique record of 3 years of sedimentologic exploration from landing to sol 1085 covering the Plains Unit to Winter Haven where Spirit spent the Martian winter of 2006. Samples in the Plains Unit and Columbia Hills appear as reflecting contrasting textural domains. One is heterogeneous, with a continuum of angular-to-round particles of fine sand to pebble sizes that are generally dust covered and locally cemented in place. The second shows the effect of a dominant and ongoing dynamic aeolian process that redistributes a uniform population of medium-size...
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Veneers and thicker rinds that coat outcrop surfaces and partially cemented fracture fills formed perpendicular to bedding document relatively late stage alteration of ancient sedimentary rocks at Meridiani Planum, Mars. The chemistry of submillimeter thick, buff-colored veneers reflects multiple processes at work since the establishment of the current plains surface. Veneer composition is dominated by the mixing of silicate-rich dust and sulfate-rich outcrop surface, but it has also been influenced by mineral precipitation, including NaCl, and possibly by limited physical or chemical weathering of sulfate minerals. Competing processes of chemical alteration (perhaps mediated by thin films of water or water vapor...
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We have used visible and near‐infrared Panoramic Camera (Pancam) spectral data acquired by the Opportunity rover to analyze 15 rock fragments at the Meridiani Planum landing site. These spectral results were then compared to geochemistry measurements made by the in situ instruments Mössbauer (MB) and Alpha Particle X‐ray Spectrometer (APXS) to determine the feasibility of mineralogic characterization from Pancam data. Our results suggest that dust and alteration rinds coat many rock fragments, which limits our ability to adequately measure the mineralogy of some rocks from Pancam spectra relative to the different field of view and penetration depths of MB and APXS. Viewing and lighting geometry, along with sampling...
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About half of the rocks at the Mars Pathfinder Ares Vallis landing site appear to be ventifacts, rocks abraded by windborne particles. Comparable resolution images taken by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) camera and the Viking landers show that ventifacts are more abundant at the Pathfinder site. The ventifacts occur in several forms, including rocks with faceted edges, finger‐like projections, elongated pits, flutes, grooves, and possible rills. The trends of elongated pits, flutes, grooves, and rills cluster at ∼280–330° clockwise from north and generally dip 10–30° away from their trend direction. These orientations are indicative of southeast to northwest winds and differ from the trend of wind tails at...
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The Yellowknife Bay formation represents a ~5 m thick stratigraphic section of lithified fluvial and lacustrine sediments analyzed by the Curiosity rover in Gale crater, Mars. Previous works have mainly focused on the mudstones that were drilled by the rover at two locations. The present study focuses on the sedimentary rocks stratigraphically above the mudstones by studying their chemical variations in parallel with rock textures. Results show that differences in composition correlate with textures and both manifest subtle but significant variations through the stratigraphic column. Though the chemistry of the sediments does not vary much in the lower part of the stratigraphy, the variations in alkali elements...