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Mars Geological Enigmas – The Red Planet’s Mysteries Brought to Light

By: , Posted on: May 20, 2021

As everyone/everywhere around the world held their collective breath on the 18th of February, the Perseverance rover parachuted to the surface of Jezero Crater, Mars, in search of water and, possibly, of habitability, long past.

Mars Geological Enigmas: From the Late Noachian Epoch to the Present Day (9780128202456) is well placed to carry on with this search and other deeply rooted Martian mysteries.

Edited by Drs. Richard Soare, Susan Conway, Jean-Pierre Williams, and Dorothy Oehler, each of the seventeen chapters of the book addresses particularly beguiling and long-standing questions about Mars’s geological history from diverging and converging perspectives.

Some of the keynote subjects are:

  • What sourced the enormous flows and volumes that formed the outflow channels and highland-margin contacts of ancient Mars?
  • Can impact craters be used to derive reliable surface ages on Mars?
  • Is there a biogenic source of the atmospheric methane on Mars?
  • Does water flow on Martian slopes or at/near the surface today?
  • The Atacama Desert, the Antarctic or the Pilbara; are any or all of these possible Earth analogues relevant to the study of Mars?

We spoke to Dr. Abigail Fraeman, chapter author and Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. She notes:

“Humanity has been fascinated by the mysteries of Mars for thousands of years. In the past decade, our understanding of the Red Planet has grown by orders of magnitude thanks to a fleet of robotic flyby, orbiter, lander, rover, and now even aerial exploration of planet. The more we learn about our nearest neighbor, the more wonderful and puzzling the planet becomes. This book surveys many of the great Martian mysteries and puzzles at the forefront of planetary science and that inspire the exploration of this once habitable world.”

We also spoke to Dr. James B. Garvin, prologue author and chief scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. He posits:

“Mars presents many faces to anyone interested in its sometimes-puzzling history. After nearly 60 years of spacecraft exploration we remain dazzled by its seemingly endless secrets, reflecting a history of widely differing environments across billions of years of time. Because Mars features prominently in the astrobiological exploration of our Solar System and in the history of possible habitability, its story often appears as a mosaic of enigmas.

Today, thanks to the unparalleled scientific exploration capabilities of roving laboratories such as Curiosity and Perseverance, as well as powerful reconnaissance orbiters including the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and MAVEN, the enigmas are crystallizing into scientific pathways forward. Within a decade or so, samples collected by the Perseverance rover and the International Mars Sample Return mission will begin to answer primordial questions about Mars and its evolution. Perhaps the enigmas identified and discussed in this new book Mars will also contribute to this scientific unravelling and, in so doing, help pave the way forward as the human journey to Mars continues!”

Mars Geological Enigmas: From the Late Noachian Epoch to the Present Day is set to publish May 28, 2021. Buy your copy of the book now on the Elsevier Bookstore. Use promo code STC30 to get 30% off + free shipping.

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Earth & Environmental Science

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