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Field and Remote Sensing Training for Human Exploration of the Planets*

By

Patricia Wood Dickerson1, James F. Reilly2, and William R. Muehlberger3

 Search and Discovery Article #40087 (2003)

 

*Adapted from presentation at 2002 AAPG Annual convention, Houston, Texas (March 11, 2002)—Symposium: Human Exploration of Earth, Moon and Mars, Chaired by William R. Muehlberger, author of companion article, “Global Tectonics, Viewed from Manned Spacecraft” (http://www.searchanddiscovery.net/documents/muehlberger/index.htm)

1Lockheed Martin, NASA-Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas (Currently: Affiliate, Smithsonian Institution, [email protected])

2Astronaut Office, NASA-Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

3Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Texas

 

Abstract

In addition to geologic sampling, stereophoto interpretation, and descriptive techniques, in 1999 astronauts began to be trained in geophysical exploration methods. Thirty-one astronauts conducted gravity traverses – a technique employed by Apollo explorers on the Moon; they acquired ~10 miles of data and profiled a buried fault with displacement of thousands of feet.

Other geophysical techniques for eventual instruction include seismic profiling to reveal buried stratigraphic relations/structures, and possibly water and/or CO2 ice. Magnetic surveys could help to distinguish among lava flows and lithic boundaries expressed in thermal emission spectrometric (TES) data. Geological and geochemical methods for distinguishing spring deposits, hydrate/clathrate accumulations, and macro/microbiological remains should be emphasized as well.

Lunar and Martian impact craters, volcanoes, and dunes exhibit analogous morphologies to terrestrial features and likely formed by processes similar to those that have operated on Earth. Forms of others, such as vast canyons and channels, fluid springs, and layered strata are similar, but modes of formation are vigorously debated. New data for both Moon and Mars enable comparison with astronaut-acquired photographs of Earth and investigation of planetary processes in advance of exploration.

Description of illustrations, which comprises most of the text, accompanies the thumbnail images and larger views of them.

 

uAbstract

uTraining

  tSurface exploration readiness

  tFigures 1-9

  tIntegrative interrogation

    sSimilar features - same processes

    sFigures 10-16

    sSimilar features - different processes

    sFigures 17-23

  tExploration Progression

  tYour mission

  tFigure 24

uAcknowledgments

uReferences

uFigure 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uAbstract

uTraining

  tSurface exploration readiness

  tFigures 1-9

  tIntegrative interrogation

    sSimilar features - same processes

    sFigures 10-16

    sSimilar features - different processes

    sFigures 17-23

  tExploration Progression

  tYour mission

  tFigure 24

uAcknowledgments

uReferences

uFigure 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uAbstract

uTraining

  tSurface exploration readiness

  tFigures 1-9

  tIntegrative interrogation

    sSimilar features - same processes

    sFigures 10-16

    sSimilar features - different processes

    sFigures 17-23

  tExploration Progression

  tYour mission

  tFigure 24

uAcknowledgments

uReferences

uFigure 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uAbstract

uTraining

  tSurface exploration readiness

  tFigures 1-9

  tIntegrative interrogation

    sSimilar features - same processes

    sFigures 10-16

    sSimilar features - different processes

    sFigures 17-23

  tExploration Progression

  tYour mission

  tFigure 24

uAcknowledgments

uReferences

uFigure 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uAbstract

uTraining

  tSurface exploration readiness

  tFigures 1-9

  tIntegrative interrogation

    sSimilar features - same processes

    sFigures 10-16

    sSimilar features - different processes

    sFigures 17-23

  tExploration Progression

  tYour mission

  tFigure 24

uAcknowledgments

uReferences

uFigure 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uAbstract

uTraining

  tSurface exploration readiness

  tFigures 1-9

  tIntegrative interrogation

    sSimilar features - same processes

    sFigures 10-16

    sSimilar features - different processes

    sFigures 17-23

  tExploration Progression

  tYour mission

  tFigure 24

uAcknowledgments

uReferences

uFigure 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uAbstract

uTraining

  tSurface exploration readiness

  tFigures 1-9

  tIntegrative interrogation

    sSimilar features - same processes

    sFigures 10-16

    sSimilar features - different processes

    sFigures 17-23

  tExploration Progression

  tYour mission

  tFigure 24

uAcknowledgments

uReferences

uFigure 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training

Surface Exploration Readiness (Figures 1-9)

Figure 1. Surface exploration readiness.

 

 

 

Figure 2. Taos Plateau, NM – Geological training ground from Apollo to the present, from space.

 

 

 

Figure 3. Taos Plateau, NM, at the surface. Dave Scott and Jim Irwin train on the rim of the Rio Grande gorge, a 1:1 analogue to Hadley Rille, Apollo 15 exploration site (Schaber, 2002). Field training continues here for Space Shuttle, International Space Station astronauts, some of whom may explore Mars or direct a Mars mission from the ground.

 

Figure 4. Taos Plateau, NM, exercise in sampling techniques (left) and training in stereophoto analysis (right).

 

Figure 5. Taos Plateau, NM, geophysical methods, specifically gravimetric surveys. Training in gravity data acquisition to delineate buried structures began in 1999. Gravimetric surveying is nondestructive and requires no external energy input; the instrument is lightweight, portable, and flight-certified. L - Gordon Cooper and Marty Kane read gravimeter, Apollo field training (Schaber, 2002). R - Chris Ferguson, John Young, and Barbara Morgan collect gravity and GPS data.

 

Figure 6. Taos Valley ground-water assessment. Faults influence ground-water distribution and flow paths in Taos Valley. Good bedrock/valley fill density contrast is favorable for gravity method; structural setting was ideal. Gravity data helped define faults buried beneath valley fill. Data were used by NM Bureau of Geology in water-resource assessment of fast-growing area. (Map from Previous HitBauerNext Hit et al., 1999.)

 

Figure 7. Taos Valley, Bouguer gravity profile defining a buried fault that influences ground-water movement. The sharp inflection at the right (east) end of the Bouguer gravity profile marks a buried fault with no surface expression; displacement measures thousands of feet. (NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, 2000).

 

Figure 8. Taos Valley, seismic exercises. Field trials have been conducted for shallow-target seismic reflection exercises.

 

 

Figure 9. Future training will include other sampling techniques – spring waters, sedimentary deposits, and organic material.

 

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Integrative Interrogation – Preceding and Throughout Surface Exploration

This aspect of training involves the following:

1. Observe, map, and interpret planetary surfaces and processes - Earth, her Moon, Mars, Phobos, Deimos, Europa...

Satellite images - Clementine, Viking, Galileo, Landsat, SPOT, Ikonos, Mars Global Surveyor (more detailed coverage for much of Mars than for most of Earth at present)...

Astronaut-acquired photos (>450,000 images, including stereophoto mapping suites; some taken specifically for comparison with lunar, martian images); SRTM data.

2. Integrate relevant observations/interpretations; compare analogous data for the several planetary bodies.

 

Similar Features Formed by Processes Like Those on Earth (Figures 10-16)

Figure 10. Emi Koussi volcanic crater, Tibesti Massif, Chad.

 

 

 

 

Figure 11. Olympus Mons, Mars. It constitutes most of the Tharsis Bulge, and it is 27 km high – 3 times the height of the island of Hawaii (9 km from subsea base to summit). Like Hawaii and Tibesti Massif, it may have formed over a mantle hotspot. (MO2C-69).

 

 

 

 

Figure 12. Shifting sands. Longitudinal (parallel to dominant wind direction), transverse (perpendicular), and star dunes (variable wind directions) are known on Earth (left) and Mars (right) (Greeley, 1987).

 

Figure 13. Layered rocks of varied origins, Grand Canyon. Sequences of layers of varied origins are common on Earth. The Grand Canyon has been carved through marine limestones, desert dune deposits, and ancient lava flows.

 

Figure 14. Layered rocks on Mars, Coprates Chasma. Viking images (1970s) first revealed layered strata on Mars. Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) data provide more detailed views.

 

 

 

Figure 15. Complex impact craters. Manicouagin, Quebec (left); Copernicus, Earth’s Moon (right).

 

Figure 16. Glaciers on Earth and Mars. Southern Andes, Chile (left); North Pole, Mars (right) (Greeley, 1987).

 

Astronaut-acquired photographs and satellite data permit detailed comparisons of the following: 

  • Great volcanoes (Mars, Jupiter’s moon Io) (Figures 10, 11)

  • Dunes (possibly finer sediment on Mars) (Figure 12)

  • Layered strata of varied origins (extrusive igneous, volcaniclastic, sedimentary) (Figures 13, 14)

  • Meteor impact structures on Moon and Mars (Figure 15)

  • Glacially carved valleys, moraines (Figure 16)

 

Similar Features Formed by Potentially Different Processes (Figures 17-23)

Figure 17. Catastrophic flood?, Candor Chasma, Mars (USGS, 1992, detail). Observations: Abrupt breaks in walls of Valles Marineris. Apparent scours extend out several kilometers. Tremendous erosive power required. Possible mechanism - sudden release of large volume of glacial meltwater in response to volcanic heating?

 

Figure 18. Details of possible flood erosion, Candor Chasma, Mars, showing deep scouring of valley floors, undercut valley walls, slumps and landslides, and blocky deposits on valley floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 19. Cascade Range, Eastern Washington State, and channeled Scablands, along the Columbia River east of the range. The Scablands are possible analogue for large-scale breaches of canyon walls on Mars. Bedrock scours resulted from ice-dam burst and abrupt release of great volumes of water.

 

Figure 20. Moses Lake and coulees, Eastern Washington State. Glacial ice dams broke between 18,000 and 13,000 years ago, in response to volcanism near modern Lake Pend Oreille, ID. 500 mi3 of melt water stripped away the glacial soil and carved deep valleys (coulees) into the bedrock. The coulees were formed in five catastrophic events; glacial Lake Missoula was the source of the flood waters.

 

Figure 21. Large lake basin, old shorelines: Mega-Lake Chad. Present Lake Chad occupies only a small portion of a far larger basin. Former shorelines, cut by waves, and abandoned river deltas are visible in surrounding topography. Large lake basins are possible analogues for North Highlands features, Mars?

 

Figure 22. Lake Chad, details of oil shorelines and river delta.

 

 

 

Figure 23. Lop Nur, China, with evaporites marking old shorelines.

 

 

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Photographs and satellite data show “look-alike”features, as demonstrated by the following: 

  • Canyons that appear to be river-carved –

No surface water and little water ice on Mars now

Flow conditions at 1/3 the Earth’s gravitational acceleration?

At subzero temperatures?

Long-lived water supply? 

  • Apparent springs and seeps

  • Apparent catastrophic floods; Source of water? Other fluid? (Figures 17, 18, 19, 20)

  • Melted subsurface ice (H2O, CO2)? Methane clathrate?

  • Possible shorelines (Figures 21, 22, 23)

Bodies of standing water — lakes and seas?

Lava-filled basins?

 

Exploration Progression

  • Integrative Interrogation

Satellite observations, imaging, mapping, systematic scientific comparison with terrestrial  and known lunar sites.

  • Enlightened Reconnaissance

Testing complex robotic (with/without humans) systems on the Moon before going to Phobos, Deimos, Mars...

  • Tightly Targeted Inquiry

Applying the investigative/integrative power of human explorers in concert with intelligent robots.

 

Your Mission (the mission of humans exploring the planets):

Characterize the geology of Earth and discuss the origin and evolution of the planet.

Figure 24. Geologic map of the conterminous United States (USGS,2000), with lunar land sites referenced to the map.

 

Acknowledgments

Astronaut-acquired photographs of Earth are made available to the public  by the Earth Science & Image Analysis Laboratory (http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov),  NASA-Johnson Space Center. Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) images from  Mars Global Surveyor are made available by Malin Space Systems/NASA  http://www.msss.com). Apollo 17 photographs are made available by NASA-Johnson Space Center (http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/html/pao/as17.htm).

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References

Previous HitBauerNext Hit, P.W., Johnson, P.S., and Kelson, K.I., 1999, Geology and    hydrogeology of the southern Taos valley, Taos County, New Mexico: Socorro, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Final Technical Report to New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, 56 p., 4 pl.

 Previous HitBauerNext Hit, P.W., Read, A., and Johnson, P.S., 2000, Astronaut geophysical training, Taos, New Mexico, Summer 1999: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/penguins/summary.html

Dickerson, P.W., Muehlberger, W.R., and Previous HitBauerTop, P.W., 2000, Astronaut training in field geophysical methods: Albuquerque, AIAA Space 2000 conference proceedings, 7 p.

Greeley, R., 1987, Planetary Landscapes: Boston, Allen & Unwin, 275 p.

Schaber, G. G., 2002, The U.S. Geological Survey’s Role in Man’s Greatest Adventure (The Apollo Expedition to the Moon): USGS Planetary Geology Branch, unpublished photo CD for dedication of Shoemaker building (September, 2002), 93 figures.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2000, A tapestry of time and terrain: U. S. Geological Survey, http://tapestry.usgs.gov/Default.html

U.S. Geological Survey, 1992, Valles Marineris: U.S. Geological Survey, Mars [color] Digital Image Mosaic disks, volume 13.  Electronic version available from Malin Space Science Systems -- http://www.msss.com/mars/pictures/usgs_color_mosaics/usgs-color.html

Willis, K., Dickerson, P.W., and McRay, B.H., 1998, Canyons, craters and drifting dunes — Terrestrial analogues on Earth’s Moon and Mars: NASA-Johnson Space Center, Office of Earth Sciences, http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/newsletter/planetary/sld001.htm

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Figure 25. Surface exploration of the moon.

Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – only thus will he fully understand  the world in which he lives.                     

                                                                                          Socrates, 500 B.C. 

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