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Search for Life on MARS

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NASA's Mars Exploration Landers. 2004 Mars Landing Sites how they were chosen. Rover Instruments ... Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) Landing Site Restrictions ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Search for Life on MARS


1
Search for Life on MARS
2
Q Why is water important for life?
  • A Because its such a great solute.

3
Who am I?
  • Adrian Brown
  • PhD student at the Australian Centre for
    Astrobiology (ACA), Macquarie University
  • Supervisors are Prof. Malcolm Walter, Director of
    the ACA, and Dr. Tom Cudahy, CSIRO
  • Thesis topic Mapping Ancient Hydrothermal
    Systems on Earth and Mars

4
Presentation Overview
  • Finding water in rocks
  • Colours of ancient rocks Pilbara, WA
  • NASAs Mars Exploration Landers
  • 2004 Mars Landing Sites how they were chosen
  • Rover Instruments
  • Colours of ancient rocks Gusev Crater, Mars
  • Investigating Grains of Rock with Microscopes
  • Dust part of the problem or the solution?

5
Finding water in rocks!
  • Water becomes part of rocks in various ways
  • Unbound water, fluid inclusions
  • Bound water in clays
  • Part of the mineral, in the form of hydroxyl
  • It can be preserved in these forms indefinitely,
    but will be subject to weathering, radiation
    (evaporation), diffusion and advection processes

O
H
H
6
Ancient Rocks of Earth a Mars Analogue?
  • ACA scientists are investigating the ancient
    Pilbara region of northern Western Australia
  • 3.5 billion years old
  • Contains first signs of life on Earth in the form
    of stromatolites
  • Could be a good analogue for Mars

7
North Pole Dome
8
Colours of Ancient Rocks
Sun
Collector
Infrared
Red
Rock Sample
Yellow
Diffractometer
Blue
Ultraviolet
  • A spectrometer splits up light into different
    colours
  • By graphing colour intensities we can record a
    characteristic spectral response of rocks

9
Colours of rocks
  • Mica alteration (left) chlorite alteration (right)

10
Mapping colours of rocks
11
The 2003 Martian Missions
12
Mars Exploration Rovers (MER)
13
Landing Site Restrictions
  • Low latitudes required because the rovers are
    solar powered
  • Landing site must be 1.3km below Martian Sea
    level so parachutes can function
  • Low winds must be present
  • Not too much dust, lest solar arrays and rocks
    are covered, and surface must bear the weight of
    a rover
  • Just enough rocks to be interesting, not enough
    to be dangerous

14
Gusev
Isidis
Meridiani
15
MER Instruments
PANCAM panoramic camera
Mini TES thermal emission spectrometer
Magnetic Arrays
APXS alpha particle x-ray spectrometer
Mossbauer fe spectrometer
MI microscope imager
RAT rock abrasion tool
16
Colours of rocks on Mars
Silicates
CO2
Carbonates
17
Dust part of the problem or solution?
18
Latest image
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