Dr. Devon Burr

Raised Curvilinear Features (RCFs) in the western Medusae Fossae Formation (MFF): mapping, characterization, and modeling

The objective of this 3-year proposal is to develop an understanding of the raised curvilinear features (RCFs) in the western Medusae Fossae Formation (MFF).  This proposed work will be accomplished in four progressive parts: 
1) mapping the features,
2) characterizing them,
3) estimating their aqueous discharges, and
4) assessing their implications and origin(s).

Mapping the features will be accomplished with THemal Emission Imaging Spectrometer (THEMIS) and Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) imagery.  Then we will characterize them dimensionally and contextually using this imagery and co-registered Mars Orbiter Laser Alimeter data points.  Volumetric discharges will be estimated from the dimensional measurements with
a) a suite of empirical terrestrial techniques scaled for Martian gravity and
b) a theoretical technique derived to address fluid flow on Mars and Titan. 
Finally, we will use the features’ characterization and discharge estimates to test the previously published hypotheses for their origin(s) and to address their geologic, hydrologic, and climatic implications.  Our publication of substantiated hypotheses will include an electronic version of all the characterization data and discharge estimates in order to fully substantiate our conclusions, enable comparison with similar discoveries elsewhere on Mars, and facilitate testing of our conclusions by independent researchers.  The previously published hypotheses for the features’ origin(s) include
i)   inverted fluvial channels,
ii)  eskers,
iii) fluidized impact ejecta, and
iv) crevasse fill. 
These hypotheses all involve water.  Thus, by investigating and assessing the origin(s) of these features, this work is directly relevant to Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG 2004) Goal I, Objective A, Investigation 1, “Determine the geologic history of water on Mars…” and Goal III, Objective A, Investigation 2, “Evaluate fluvial, subaqueous, and subaerial sedimentary processes and their evolution and distribution through time.”