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22 March 2009

The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

(This is the final day of a week-long field trip in Arizona. Get caught up with days 1,2,3,4,5, 6) Friday was the last day of the field trip, and we spent it at the Petrified Forest national park. We were there to study the colorful clays and river deposits, but we began the day with an unexpected bonus: our guide, Bill Parker, is a paleontologist at the park, and he …

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17 September 2008

MSL Workshop Presentations!

For those of you playing along at home, I thought I should point out that most of the presentations so far are posted at the “marsoweb” landing site website, so I encourage you to go check them out. Also, in case you were wondering, I have no idea which sites I want to survive this process. I have one or two that I am skeptical of, but I am really …

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Potential MSL Site: Gale Crater

I am sort of breaking my own protocol here by posting about Gale crater before I hear the presentations today, but since we will immediately go into discussion and decision making after it is presented this morning, I figured that it would be good to familiarize you with it now. Gale is a ~100 km diameter crater on Mars with a huge 5 km tall mound of sediments in the …

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Potential MSL Site: Mawrth Vallis

The Mawrth Vallis landing site is actually a set of four possible landing ellipses in an area with huge clay mineral signatures that is cut by a meandering outflow channel. There was some grumbling in the past about the fact that Mawrth advocates proposed four ellipses when everyone else followed the rules and only submitted one, but in the end I think it hurt them. They ran way over time …

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Potential MSL Site: Eberswalde

The Eberswalde site is interesting because it is unarguably the best example of a delta on Mars. It is in a small crater that was partially obscured by the Holden impact and forms an enclosed basin with clear inflowing channels. (we know the source and the sink!) The hypothesis is that it was a long-lived lake with a large delta. A delta environment is great because it is a location …

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Potential MSL Site: Holden Crater

The next landing site that we heard about was Holden Crater. Holden is a 154 km diameter crater formed early in martian history that happened to fall smack in the path of an extensive fluvial system. There was a long chain of craters connected by water-carved channels¬† and then the Holden impact occurred and interrupted that flow. It looks like Uzboi vallis, one of the channels, then breached the rim …

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16 September 2008

Potential MSL Site: Nili Fossae Trough

This morning we hit the ground running and heard about a very interesting site: the Nili Fossae Trough. This site would land in a big canyon formed when a block of crust dropped down. To the southeast of the site is the giant Isidis impact basin, and to the south is the Syrtis Major volcano and associated lava flows. Just east of the trough is a somewhat fresher crater whose …

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Potential MSL Site: South Meridiani

The south Meridiani landing site is a newcomer to the bunch. It was added earlier this summer as a replacement for the north meridiani site. The south Meridiani site is about 100 km due south of the Opportunity rover landing site and about 100 km due east of the Miyamoto site. What makes the south Meridiani site interesting is that, just south of the landing ellipse, you transition from Meridiani …

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Potential MSL Site: Miyamoto Crater

Miyamoto crater is an ancient crater about 150 km southwest of where the Opportunity rover is right now. It probably formed in the earliest stage of Mars history, and was then subject to lots of erosion by water, followed by being partially or completely buried by the same material that make up the Meridiani plains. Then, erosion exposed it again. The potential landing site has some interesting mineralogy, particularly evidence …

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3rd MSL Landing Site Workshop – Engineering and Geobiology

We covered a LOT today, so I have decided to split things up. This post will cover the talks in the morning and then I will give each site its own post. Today started off with presentations from some of the engineers and managers on the mission. They updated us on the rover’s status (it it making lots of progress, but still has a long way to go!), and informed …

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