The layered mesas of Mars


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The mesas of Uzboi Valles

Cool image time! The image above, reduced and cropped to post here, shows the layered deposits and complex erosion that has taken place in this area of Mars dubbed Uzboi Vallis. As noted at the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter post,

Layered deposits in Uzboi Vallis sometimes occur in alcoves along the valley and/or below where tributaries enter it. These deposits may record deposition into a large lake that once filled Uzboi Vallis when it was temporarily dammed at its northern end by the rim of Holden Crater and before it was overtopped and breached allowing water to drain back out of the valley.

It is important when looking at these erosion patterns, including the strangely shaped rippled sand dunes scattered through the larger image, that wind possibly plays an even more important part in causing erosion on Mars than liquid water might have in the far past.

Either way, the terrain here has the same stark and fascinating beauty as that seen in the American southwest. If we can ever make it possible to live on Mars, this will definitely be a place to visit when on vacation.

6 comments

  • wodun

    The picture isn’t loading for me right now so I have to wait to get a detailed look.

    IIRC on Earth, when you see cuts at different levels like that it is from different events. Sand is easily blown around but it would be cool to know if there are ripples from larger sediments.

  • LocalFluff

    Looks like a very difficult landscape to traverse. Sand dunes to get stuck in, steep ravines, boulders everywhere. And Mars’ atmosphere is too thin to let anything fly in it, except for maybe the tiniest short range drone.

    Robert seems to like spelunking and trekking in harsh landscapes. How much harder would it be in a group of three, with space suites and near certain death if it is damaged, with no prior ground knowledge of the place, with no support other than the radio?

    Lunar poles are interesting for ISRU, but one thing that makes in difficult for astronauts are the long shadows. Without an atmosphere shadows are very sharp, one is blinded by the lit up parts of the ground and cannot see if there are holes or boulders in the shadows. And the constantly change as the Sun slowly moves 14 degrees a day. One wouldn’t recognize the local landscape from one day to the other. Now, maybe visual aids can fix that, Pokemon style.

  • mpthompson

    Lunar poles are interesting for ISRU, but one thing that makes in difficult for astronauts are the long shadows. Without an atmosphere shadows are very sharp, one is blinded by the lit up parts of the ground and cannot see if there are holes or boulders in the shadows.

    Wouldn’t a bright flashlight or floodlight on a vehicle take care of that?

  • LocalFluff

    @mpthompson,
    If the area is photographed once in proper lighting, and this is converted to a virtual view in the goggles of the astronaut walking in it later, seeing the topography in the shadows on a virtual screen. Just a little complication compared to Apollo.

    Walking or driving around in shadows with good active lighting requires power. Either in batteries, in a nuclear power, or cables or beams from power stations. And the worlds largest interplanetary rover, Curiosity that costs $3B, has only 1/6 of a horse power electric power. Maybe economic lights and visual light amplifiers can take care of it.

  • LocalFluff

    von Braun and Disney had an orbiting solution to the shadows problem in 1955:
    https://youtu.be/eXIDFx74aSY?t=1361

  • Edward

    LocalFluff wrote: “And the worlds largest interplanetary rover, Curiosity that costs $3B, has only 1/6 of a horse power electric power.

    Tesla cars do a little better than that and for considerably less cost. I am sure that a lunar base could charge a lunar rover to the point of operating for a couple of hours while shining a nice light on the terrain. We may even be able to install portable light stands or permanent lights in areas that are continually worked.

    Another problem to solve are the bases that will be in night for two week intervals.

    LocalFluff,
    I like your linked video. I think they showed us that in school, and I wondered why they didn’t just send another ship when the sun was shining on the far side of the moon. In the case of the lunar poles, there are places where the sun never shines. Power can be obtained at the poles by locating solar arrays on rises where the sun shines a vast majority of the time.

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