[Previous] | [Session 62] | [Next]
B. Jakosky, M. Mellon (LASP/Univ. of Colorado)
High-resolution thermal inertia mapping has been carried out for selected regions of Mars that are of exobiological relevance, using nighttime thermal emission measurements from the MGS TES. Thermal inertia is a direct indicator of physical properties of the surface at the decimeter-to-meter scale. Our goal is to understand the processes by which the sites formed, their subsequent evolution, their current state, and the safety and science potential as landing sites for future lander, rover, and sample-return spacecraft missions. The thermal inertia values at ~3-km scale for the sites considered span the entire range of values measured at Mars; this range includes low values indicative of substantial aeolian mantling up to high values suggesting surfaces covered predominantly with bedrock, exposed rocks or blocks, or well-indurated crusts. Areas having the highest thermal inertias show strong correlation of thermal inertia with local morphology, while those with lower thermal inertias generally show no such correlation. The wide range suggests that selection of future landing sites will be plagued by a choice of a well-mantled site that is safe but less interesting scientifically versus an unmantled site that is more interesting scientifically but less safe.