A background to Mars exploration and research
Alistair S. Bargery, Matthew R. Balme, Nicholas Warner, Colman J. Gallagher, Sanjeev Gupta, 2011. "A background to Mars exploration and research", Martian Geomorphology, M. R. Balme, A. S. Bargery, C. J. Gallagher, S. Gupta
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Mars is the fourth planet in our Solar System and orbits roughly 230×106 km from the Sun. It has an orbital period of 687 Earth days and a solar day that is approximately 40 min longer than an Earth day. Mars is less dense and has half the radius of the Earth, and so has about one-tenth the mass; hence, the surface gravity of Mars is about four-tenths that of the Earth. Mars has no oceans and its surface area is therefore almost as large as that of Earth's continents. In this chapter, we present a summary of the Martian environment, global geography and geology, and provide some background on the missions and instruments that have played a role in developing our current understanding. Our aim is to provide a broad overview for those unfamiliar with Mars, rather than providing an exhaustive summary of every aspect of the planet's evolution.
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The latest Mars missions are returning data of unprecedented fidelity in their representation of the martian surface. New data include images with spatial resolution better than 30 cm per pixel, stereo imaging-derived terrain models with one meter postings, high-resolution imaging spectroscopy, and RADAR data that reveal subsurface structure. This book reveals how this information is being used to understand the evolution of martian landscapes, and includes topics such as fluvial flooding, permafrost and periglacial landforms, debris flows, deposition and erosion of sedimentary material, and the origin of lineaments on Phobos, the larger martian moon. Contemporary remote sensing data of Mars, on a par with those of Earth, reveal landscapes strikingly similar to regions of our own planet, so this book will be of interest to Earth scientists and planetary scientists alike. An overview chapter summarising Mars’ climate, geology and exploration is included for the benefit of those new to Mars.