There’s a lovely blog post over at The Planetary Society explaining a couple of images from IAG’s Planetary Geomorphology Working Group’s May 2010 featured images.
This is some cool stuff, since it’s very much connected to the ongoing “water on Mars” debate, and the geomorphological argument has to do with water leaching minerals over a fairly long period of time. Another of the images that the blog post doesn’t cover looks at:
However, with the addition of infrared color, two distinct units of altered minerals can be discerned, and using spectroscopic information, these have been identified. Here at NE Syrtis, there is a unique stratigraphy of iron sulfate overlying carbonate, which is being exposed by the erosion of overlying lavas (Mustard and Ehlmann, 2010). This suggests a transition in the aqueous alteration environment from neutral-to-alkaline to acidic that is preserved in the rock record.
Aqueous alteration environment… squee! With of course the added fun of wondering what might have caused the pH of that environment to go from neutral-ish to acidic. Interesting stuff, to be sure.
I didn’t know about the images of the month, but I’m going to start checking them out for sure! Geomorphology was one of my favorite undergrad classes, and there’s some very neat stuff on that site. For example, comparison of catastrophic flood bed forms on Earth and Mars that was April’s set of images. Looking at land features via aerial/satellite imagery isn’t perfect, but I think it’s great to see our knowledge of our own planet being applied to the images we’re getting from Mars.