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Mars Analogue Sites
river channels, sand dunes
The geology is of great interest, although well studied. The craters will serve as excellent analogues for small craters on Mars. The crater walls, sparse vegetation, dry creeks, and rolling plains are potentially a good Marsupial testing surface. The sparse vegetation over much of the area makes this a good visual analogue for Mars. Provided access is possible the area is rated good.
stream channels, mesas
Entire site was quite bereft vegetation. Distinct levels of erosion and weathering forming plateaus and gullies. There was evidence of slope wash/processes of slope erosion. The biological interest of the site (such as water boreholes) is rated low to moderate. The range of possible engineering operations testing opportunities is moderate. The sizes and distribution of rocks was similar to the Chryse Planatia from Viking photographs in sites 2a and 2b. Visually the site was excellent. The amenties were quite remote and could be practically innaccessable at some times of the year.
salt pans, mesas
Dalhousie Rockpile is the largest and oldest of the fossil mound springs in the Dalhousie area. It is possible that the site is related to the initial discharge of groundwater that carved the outflow channels and thus is a small scale analogue to similar features interpreted on Mars. The limestone cap may prserve the textures and fossils associated with mound spring biota. The friability of the surface might be interesting for tests of surface walking and spacesuit boots. A star pole in loose soil on the slope dug in to a depth of 40cm could easily be pushed over. One individual sank into soft soil which had been undermined by rabbits. The site is also of biological interest for containing potential extremophile ecosystems in the salt lake beds and on the slopes. The site is also of considerable value as a visual analogue, consisting of barren, exposed surfaces with little vegetation, a landscape which is primordial in character.
The analogue value is threefold. Firstly, the large area of groundwater discharge and resulting outflow channle provides a small scale analogue to the large outflow channels which are also believed to be supplied by ground water. Secondly, the thermal springs and associated microbial communities provide an analogue for putative Martian oasis associated with geothermal activity. Thirdly, the sulfate rich soils may offer similarities to similar salt laden Martian soils.
Moderate analogue value as an example of a typography, a medium sized river dominated by rare high intensity and sometimes catastrophic flood events. Expanse of river channel preserving evidence of flow from when banks were being deposited on and eroded. Vegetation is the limiting factor.
The deeply eroded nature of this astrobleme may have no equivalent on Mars. The extensive vegetation also makes it a poor visual analogue. The terrain is either relatively smooth, offering little challenge to Marsupial, or extremely rugged. Overall value must be low.
meteor impact craters
Essentially the site is a prime example of the various features associated with meteorite impact. Crater is of recent origin (5-10,000 years) and so is less modified by weathering and erosion processes characteristic of other Earth impact sites. Studies of the erosion and infill of craters will have important analogue value and a more accurate dating of the impact event would have considerable general scientific interest. There are no other features of interest here. Provided access is possible, the area is rated good as an example of a particular unusual terrain type.
plateaus, sand dunes, lake bed
There are at least five topographic elements: the plateau; the slopes; the dry lake bed; the dune fields and alluvial streams. The importance of this from a scientific viewpoint is the large range of sites of both geological and biological interest. From the standpoint of operations research, a complex range of environments and features within which you can and must operate. That range of complex terrains and forms will span the possible range of operations in a real surface mission. At the same time, the were no negative aspects of the site, which might have compromised suitability . In summary the site is rated high in analog value.
gibber plain, low relief creek olf
The surface firmness is deceptive. A 4WD vehicle sinks about 2 cm into gibber surface but does always break through. Large amounts of fine dust would be thrown up by any disturbing operation on the surface. Friable, subsiding surfaces of this kind are rarely found in North American alanlog sites. The presence of a high mound with a known geographical location on an otherwise almost featureless plain could be useful in a scenario involving navigation by landmarks.
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