• Martian Meteorites
• Martian Moons
• Martian Surface Exploration
The Viking Landers (early 80s)
Current Surface Explorers (three en route!)
Future of Martian Exploration (“astrobiology”)
What are these “meteorites”?
Unusual rocks found in Antarctica
How did they get to Earth?
An impact on Mars (crater size: 10-100 km) ejected
part of the Martian surface
How do we know these meteorites are from Mars?
Chemical composition does not match usual meteorites
Only 1.3 billion yrs old (most asteroid-type meteorites
MUCH older); Higher content of volatile substances
Why aren’t they orange – the color of Mars surface?
Has to do with how the rocks weathered
What DO 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
What DON’T they tell us?
- Location of origin (on Mars – which part of surface?)
- Enough about Mars’ water & atmosphere
- Need to actually RETURN ROCKS from Mars!!
Case Study: Martian Rock ALH84001
Mass = 1.9 kg
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
Astrobiology: exciting field of research – study of origin of life in the solar system,universe
- LIFE IS UBIQUITOUS in the universe – we just haven’t found it
- LIFE IS A SPECIAL quirk of nature and timing – very very rare!
ü Two moons: Deimos, Phobos
üSmall (~20km) irregularly shaped
ü Orbit Mars in 8hr, 30hr
ü Probably captured asteroids
PROS for Space Missions
üClosest views of the planets
that are possible
üAccess to wavelengths that are unavailable on the ground
üAtmospheric effects gone – get clearer views than on Earth
üDevelopment of sophisticated tech. and research
CONS for Space Missions
+Can not fix/test equipment as easily