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Wind erosion on Mars exposes ideal targets for sample return
  • Mackenzie Day,
  • William Anderson
Mackenzie Day
University of California Los Angeles

Corresponding Author:daym@epss.ucla.edu

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William Anderson
University of Texas at Dallas
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The Mars 2020 rover will land in Jezero crater, characterize the local geology, and collect samples to be sent back to Earth. Ionizing radiation at the martian surface degrades the complex organic molecules sought by this mission, making it critical to mission success that samples be selected from recently eroded strata minimally exposed to surface radiation. Erosion on modern Mars is driven by wind. We used numerical modeling to identify sites near the rover landing area where recent aeolian erosion has likely occurred. Large eddy simulation of turbulent airflow over topography was coupled with interpretations of the surface geology to characterize wind-driven erosion across the Jezero crater delta deposit. We discuss potential sediment sources that could drive abrasion and calculate the largest grains mobilized by typical winds over the study area. Our results identify several locations likely eroded by recent winds that provide optimal sites for sample collection.
28 Jan 2021Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 48 issue 2. 10.1029/2020GL090580