Astrogeology Science Center


Serving the nation, the international science community, planetary scientists and the general public in the pursuit of new knowledge about our Solar System.


Glossary of Terms


Date published: October 15, 2020

Terror on Mars: The Asphyxiation of Opportunity

The Ghostbusters are not afraid of ghosts and the robotic explorers of our time are not afraid of the challenges encountered in space.  Rovers just go. They follow issued commands, and do their work, but eventually die alone.

Date published: October 4, 2020

The truth about a terrifying lava skylight where only the trained should lurk

A lava skylight is not seen by most people as being particularly scary since it is just an opening in the roof above a lava tube from which the flowing lava can be seen. Dr. Laszlo Kestay, a volcanologist at the Astrogeology Science Center, explains this genuinely scary skylight that some people believe resembles a doorway to hell.

Date published: September 21, 2020

Curiosity Blogs: Sols 2887-2889: Ok CheMin, now it’s your turn!

We’ve been talking a lot about SAM analyses of the “Mary Anning 3” sample, but in today’s 3-sol weekend plan, it’s CheMin’s turn to shine.  The weekend plan is focused on dropping off part of the “Mary Anning 3” sample to CheMin and analyzing what minerals are present.  The plan also includes preparing SAM for upcoming analyses by cleaning GC columns 1 and 2, and a script update.  


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Year Published: 2021

Exposure of an early to middle Noachian valley network in three dimensions on Mars

We document a set of channels in a section of the Martian cratered highlands located between crustal massifs northeast of Hellas Planitia that are visible in cross section and planview >200 m below the surface. The morphometry and spatial distribution of the outcrops provide concrete geological evidence of a dynamic aqueous system in a...

Skinner, James A.; Fortezzo, Corey M.; Mouginis-Mark, Peter J.

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Year Published: 2020

Compositional layering in Io driven by magmatic segregation and volcanism

The compositional evolution of volcanic bodies like Io is not well understood. Magmatic segregation and volcanic eruptions transport tidal heat from Io's interior to its surface. Several observed eruptions appear to be extremely high temperature (≥ 1600 K), suggesting either very high degrees of melting, refractory source regions, or intensive...

Spencer, Dan C; Katz, Richard F.; Hewitt, Ian J.; May, David A.; Kestay, Laszlo P.

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Year Published: 2020

Evaluating stereo DTM quality at Jezero Crater, Mars with HRSC, CTX, and HiRISE images

We have used a high-precision, high-resolution digital terrain model (DTM) of the NASA Mars 2020 rover Perseverance landing site in Jezero crater based on mosaicked images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (MRO HiRISE) camera as a reference dataset to evaluate DTMs based on Mars Express High...

Kirk, Randolph L.; Fergason, Robin L.; Redding, Bonnie L.; Galuszka, Donna M.; Smith, Ethan; Mayer, David; Hare, Trent M.; Gwinner, Klaus