Mars Projects

Investigating the mineralogy at Libya Montes, Mars, determining if carbonates are present, and characterizing the geologic history of the Isidis Planitia region

Friday, October 31 2014 - 11:42 am, PDT
This project includes five coordinated tasks designed to investigate the composition, character and stratigraphy of the aqueous mineralogy at Libya Montes and revise our understanding of the valley networks along the southern edge of Isidis Basin and the dominant geologic processes that have governed the Isidis Planitia region.

Terrestrial Planet Geologic History Investigations

Friday, October 31 2014 - 11:24 am, PDT
PI Beyer proposes several scientific, mission support, and public outreach activities that include investigations on Mars, the Moon, the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, and Pluto.

Dune Morphology and Atmospheric Models: Implications for Present-Day Martian Aeolian Activity

Monday, August 16 2010 - 3:56 pm, PDT
It has long been unclear whether the many sand dune fields on Mars are actively evolving in the present climatic era. Recent evidence of sand avalanching and active sustained saltation has been identified in high resolution images. In particular, we report the first clear indications of ripple migration over dark dune slopes observed from orbit. We propose a comprehensive study that will specifically address this knowledge gap, via the careful analysis of high-resolution spacecraft imagery over the majority of the planet (between 60° N and 60° S). In fact, even the preliminary investigation of a small sampling of such imagery has already yielded evidence of recent sand avalanching on dark dune slip faces and the first clear indications of ripple migration (superposed on the dark dunes) observed from orbit. Such morphological indications provide unprecedented details of sustained saltation on Mars. This newly found activity refutes the commonly held belief that dunes on Mars are inactive in the present-day wind regime. Such a provocative topic deserves immediate, detailed study to determine how current dune activity provides unique ground truth for today's weather patterns on Mars.


IceBite: An auger and sampling system for ground ice on Mars

Sunday, February 01 2009 - 2:51 pm, PST
IceBite: Development of an auger bit to allow future Mars landers to collect samples from below ground level, widening the search for signs of life.

Exploration of Planets Past, Present, and Future Habitability

Wednesday, January 07 2009 - 3:59 pm, PST
Planetary habitability is the measure of a planet's (or a satellite’s) potential to develop and sustain life. While life beyond the Earth is still uncertain, planetary missions show that conditions for habitability (i.e. water, energy, nutrients) were met in the past, and still possibly today in specific environments on Mars and on several moons of the outer solar system. Central to our investigation is the notion that habitability evolves with time. For instance, some planets could have been habitable in the past and may not be anymore; the Earth, that is not only habitable but has developed life, has seen its broad range of habitats change over geological times through climate cycles and planetary-scale catastrophes (e.g., asteroid and comet impacts) that were followed sometimes by near complete extinctions and the redistribution of habitats and dominant species. Currently, Global Warming is showing how rapidly habitats and species can disappear following climate change. Yet, humanity’s ability to explore and understand its environment can have positive consequences, which is in the case of our planet, to reduce human-induced biodiversity loss, and for other planets, to explore and engineer apparently sterile worlds (e.g., the Moon and Mars) to make them habitable and productive for future generations.


Geochemical and Astrobiological Studies on Martian Aqueous Solutions at Subzero Temperatures

Friday, August 01 2008 - 4:43 pm, PDT
Study of aqueous minerals on Mars and testing of a novel methodology to search for traces of current and past life in these minerals.