Questions tagged [geology]

Questions regarding surface features of celestial bodies.

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Why do two craters in Utopia Planitia look like dark holes and are of the few ones on Mars that look this way?

Screenshot from Mars Trek This enigmatic crater lies in southern Utopia Planitia at 28.72⁰ N, 119.96⁰ E, is about 10 km wide and has a min. height difference between its floor and rim of ca. 1650 m. ...
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Which were the more than 60 (!) candidate locations for the Mars 2020 rover?

Four years ago I asked for the 21 potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 mission in this question, but now I've learned that there were more than 60 candidate locations ! From NASA Announces ...
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1 answer
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Depth to diameter ratio of impact craters

Two questions on this site concern themselves with the depth to diameter ratios of craters: Catalog of lunar crater depths and diameters Where on Mars are there possible other collapse features with ...
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What are the regularly spaced spots on this piece of material on the surface of Mars?

This image is a part of the Image of the week, a photo acquired by the Perseverance rover's Mastcam-Z camera and selected by public vote. To me it seems like a piece of styrofoam and with a closer ...
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Could there be caves on Mars in the areas inside Jezero crater and the watershed west and north of it where the Mg carbonates are detected?

Both images above are screenshots from Fig. 1 of the article Formation of Magnesium Carbonates on Earth and Implications for Mars The green coloured regions indicate where Mg carbonates were detected, ...
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What could be the cause of the extraordinary high Fe counts from the PIXL instrument onboard the Perseverance rover?

In this answer a table is showed with all the elements that were detected by the PIXL instrument on 2 occasions, namely sol 140 and sol 167. As could be expected, X-ray counts were high for Si (...
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1 answer
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After one year exploring Jezero's crater floor, has there been any investigation into the presence of trace elements with PIXL?

PIXL instrument chart sample Credit:NASA/JPL-CALTECH Of course PIXL has been used already in Jezero crater, but as far as I know only to identify mineral compositions and textures, as described in ...
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Rock arches on the moon?

The large rock in the centre right position (cut off by the image's right edge) of this photo seems to include the left part of a (small) natural arch: Is this indeed a rock arch? Are complete ...
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How does Curiosity's X-ray diffractometer work? Does it measure only one angle at a time or does it have an area detector?

Per this answer to Are quasicrystals common on the Moon and Mars?, Curiosity has an X-ray diffractometer. X-ray diffraction from 3D crystals can (begin to) be understood by embracing Bragg's law. A 3D ...
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1 answer
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Are quasicrystals common on the Moon and Mars?

According to this 594, 7861 Nature article called First nuclear detonation created ‘impossible’ quasicrystals, the quasicrystals are readily created when where is an explosion or a meteorite impact ...
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White crack infill on the surface of Mars in the Gale Crater

The following picture, taken by the Curiosity rover in the Gale Crater on Mars in 2016 shows what appears to be a cracked Martian surface, with the Egg Rock nickel-iron meteorite. Ignoring the ...
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Difference between "mafic floor" and "olivine-bearing floor" in Jezero crater? (Perseverance landing site)

Figure 3: Main geologic units within Jezero crater shown on a basemap constructed from images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance ...
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Why Perseverance's landing ellipse straddled the cliffs in the river delta; why so ambivalent about the two different geologies?

The Perseverance landing site has now been named for Octavia E. Butler and from here there will be a meandering climb to get up on top of the "cliffs" that are in the delta. I think that ...
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Eyes on Mars; are these craters mentioned or described in any paper or (scientific) article?

Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona HiRISE ESP_025334_2035 For a closer view, click on the image, and then, click again. This pair of similar craters is located in the northern part of Oyama crater,...
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27 votes
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Do other planets and moons share Earth’s mineral diversity?

Earth is full of different minerals. Each patch of land, between plate tectonics and other forces, finds itself brimming with a variety of interesting and more importantly, different, minerals. Does ...
3 votes
2 answers
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How to determine the distance between Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris?

How can I determine the distance between Olympus Mons and the closest point of Valles Marineris? What tools are available to the general public for these kinds of queries?
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Significance of Venus surface photos

Out of curiosity, I started looking for photos of Venus surface taken by various Russian probes. There is a nice collection here: http://mentallandscape.com/C_CatalogVenus.htm Not being a geologist, I ...
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Why is the along track resolution of the MRO's SHARAD limited to >300m?

I've been reading about the SHAllow RADar instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, but I am struggling to understand why the along track resolution of its radargrams is so large. As I ...
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Theories Clarification

I attended a seminar and the presenter was discussing various theories to explain the strong magnetic anomalies on Mars as spotted from orbit. One theory was that the "Lithology is rich in ...
20 votes
4 answers
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Do scientist who study martian geology typically use the term areology?

In the book Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, I came across the word "areology". Is this word often used in scientific publications, or is it a term limited to the scope of science-fiction, ...
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1 answer
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Possible explanations to Mars' exceptionally strong magnetic anomalies

Some of the magnetic anomalies spotted in the southern hemisphere of Mars from orbit are exceptionally high in magnitude and they are an order of magnitude greater than what we would expect ...
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Where exactly are those eight steep slopes on Mars revealing structures of buried ice?

Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/USGS The image above is from Phys.org's article Steep slopes on Mars reveal structure of buried ice that I came upon by the link in a comment from @Mark Adler after his ...
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Why are there mountains/mounds in the centre of craters on the lunar surface?

From clear images of moon's surface we can see many of the craters have small mountains/mounds (or montes) in the centre. So, what is the mechanism behind the formation of these mountains and which ...
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How did Spirit and Opportunity identify ferric sulfate and jarosite on Mars?

In the short BBC video Spain's otherworldly red river, Ricardo Amils, a researcher in Spain's Astrobiology Center says the following (amateur transcription): Río Tinto is a peculiar place in our ...
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Does the polygonal pattern on the floor of this "crater" on Mars mean that there's water ice below its surface?

This presentation of the Program of the Second MSL Landing Site Workshop shows an image of a "crater" near the equator that is 2.4 km wide and 750 meters deep ! On the Mars Image explorer you can ...
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1 answer
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Can mineralogy maps be made without dedicated instruments? MAGIC at Callisto

While we are still waiting for the official Discovery finalists announcement, and it's perhaps a bit premature to be discussing the proposals, I've been thinking about the exciting MAGIC mission to ...
11 votes
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What likely is the chemical composition of the thin piece of material on the surface of Mars on the image below?

Note: The MAHLI images below were acquired when both the two groups of white light LEDs and the ultraviolet LEDs were off. When looking for the damage on the wheels of Curiosity on the raw images i ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Which scientific articles together give proof of all the chemical elements found on Mars?

Wikipedia about the elemental composition of Mars: Based on these data sources, scientists think that the most abundant chemical elements in the Martian crust, besides silicon and oxygen, are iron, ...
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1 answer
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Is it recorded and/or documented when and where Curiosity's ChemCam's laser has zapped on Mars?

The article with the title "NASA Rover's Images Show Laser Flash on Martian Rock" tells us that the ChemCam's laser had zapped more than 600 rock and soil targets on Mars since Curiosity landed in ...
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What is the white stuff emerging from a hole on the surface of Mars?

Edit: It can almost certainly be excluded that the white spot was caused by Curiosity's ChemCam's laser, because it doesn't make sense that the laser was used at that time without taking images with ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Were launchpads at KSC built with pilings or footings?

Considering the importance of keeping a launchpad level, were pads 39A or 39B at Kennedy Space Center built with pilings or footings down to the bedrock? As seen in the quotes below, I have found ...
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Why was Apollo 17 considered to have "achieved a very successful geological survey"?

They listed out all the apollo missions, with blurbs about what the outcomes were, for example here's 15, 16 and 17: 15 - Landed on moon and deployed lunar rover. 16 - Landed on moon and deployed ...
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Does Mars have badlands?

This excellent answer addresses the amazing 3D structures shown in the image below: The terrain examples show some striking similarities to what is referred to in the United States as "Badlands" - ...
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1 answer
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Have the rovers on Mars encountered anything unrecognizable to geologists?

We have quite a few rovers trundling around Mars. Just from reading the popular news, I get the impression that everything encountered so far (minerals, rocks, strata, formations, structures, etc.) ...
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1 answer
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What kinds of instruments do you need to detect whether liquid water/ice is on a planet?

Somewhat of a two-part question. Firstly I'm interested to know if it is expected that a planet/asteroid has water/ice on it, what kinds of scientific instruments you need to identify the presence and ...
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Where on Mars did the largest river once flow?

It is generally accepted that once there was running water on the surface of Mars. Can it be determined from remote sensing data from space where the biggest, largest and longest ones were?
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1 answer
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Is there any reason Cyanobacteria or Lichens can't survive on Mars?

According to this article "Mars atmosphere is supersaturated with water" & according to answers to this physics stack exchange question conditions do exist on the surface of Mars where fluid water ...
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What's the deepest a trench could theoretically be dug on Mars?

Given the physical characteristics of Mars (the crust's thickness, its composition, gravity, etc.) how deep a trench (that could be expected to continue to exist indefinitely, or rather, for periods ...
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Has the HP$^3$ on the Insight lander actually a probe to detect water and ice in the subsurface of Mars?

The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP$^3$) is a science instrument onboard the Insight lander that features a self-penetrating probe to determine how heat flows inside Mars. Nicknamed "the ...
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Why are the heat sensor probes in HP3 probe spaced with reducing gap with depth?

The HP3 probe used for studying the geothermal features of Martian surface, hammers upto 5m deep and inserts a tether lined with heat sensor probes. This link shared earlier by @uhoh, is an ...
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How could InSight's seismometers be intentionally and meaningfully "pinged"?

I had a friend whose summer job, a long long time ago, was to travel around an unsuspecting rural area, lay a heavy steel plate on the ground, and whack the plate with a sledge hammer. Apparently he ...
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1 answer
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What are the temperature and pressure inside the CO$_2$ deposit on Mars?

Within the CO$_2$ deposit near the south pole on Mars, according to this article 3 subunits have been found with one having a top CO$_2$ layer of about 300 meters thick covered by a water ice layer ...
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What were the 21 potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 mission?

In August 2015 more than 150 scientists attended a conference to evaluate 21 potential landing sites for NASA's next rover, a mission called Mars 2020. Out of those proposed landing sites the Mars ...
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Where on Mars are there possible other collapse features with very high depth/diameter ratio?

Figure 1 of this article about craters and collapse features on Mars with high depth/diameter ratios shows that ratios higher than 0.2 are exceptional. This presentation of the Program of the Second ...
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Are there microclimates with better weather conditions on Mars?

On Earth, a microclimate mostly refers to an area which differs from the surrounding areas in temperature or humidity. And what about Mars ? Are there places with atmospheric conditions that are less ...
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Would a circular saw on one arm and a trowel on another on the Mars 2020 rover add scientific value? [closed]

Edit: I changed the question from one arm with a shovel to two arms, with one with a circular saw and the other with a trowel, some time after the first answer of @Hobbes. I did this because in his ...
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Which potential landing sites were identified at the MSL Landing Site workshops?

In the Wikipedia article Timeline of Mars Science Laboratory it is mentioned that at the first MSL Landing Site workshop, 33 potential landing sites were identified, and that by the second workshop in ...
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What is the real depth of the Mojave crater on Mars?

The Mojave crater on Mars is interesting because among other things, it has alluvial fans that look remarkably similar to landforms in the Mojave desert. On the image1 above the crater has about ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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Why is the northeastern region of Syrtis Major Planum a selected landing site for the Mars 2020 mission?

Image below: One of the 3 selected landing sites, on the left side of Jezero crater, which is also selected ! A workshop for the Mars 2020 Rover mission was held in February 2017 that selected 3 ...
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How does one get the exact location of imaged features on the surface of Mars?

The image above is from the article "Evidence from the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera for a frozen sea close to Mars' equator". It shows 3 flooded or partially flooded craters 4.8, 2.3 ...
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