New tools to map and visualise the geology of Mars
Publication from Digital
R. Barnes, S. Gupta, M. Giordano, J.G. Morley, J. P. Muller, Y. Tao, J. Sprink, C. Traxler, G. Hesina, T. Ortner, K. Sander, B. Nauschnegg, G. Paar, K. Willner, E. Tasdelen, T. Pajdla
William Smith Meeting 2015 (Part 2) 5 November 2015, 200 Years and Beyond: The future of geological mapping , 1/2015
On Earth, sediments and sedimentary rocks, particularly those formed by or in water, are where we find fossil life and other preserved biosignatures. One of the prime goals of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) and Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover (MSL), and ESA’s 2018 ExoMars Rover is to analyse outcrops of sedimentary rocks and assess their potential for habitability and preservation of ancient microbial life. Thus techniques and tools for analysing sedimentary rock outcrops are crucial to developing efficient exploration strategies. Panoramic digital cameras (PanCam on MER and MastCam on MSL) serve as the 'eyes' of the rovers, and are used for identifying suitable rock outcrops and characterising features that provide clues as to how the rocks were originally deposited as sediments. These clues are preserved in layer geometries, internal features within layers and the size and texture of constituent grains. On Earth these features are understood through 3D measurements and analyses of geological features in rock outcrops. The panoramic camera systems can take stereo images which are used to create 3D reconstructions of rock outcrops which can be analysed much like geologists might do on Earth.