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Mars Analogue Sites
The gibber plain would form an excellent landing site analogue environment, with numerous sites of interest accessible in the breakaways to the west and north-east. These could be visited by analogue rover traverses of 20-100 kilometres. Further to the east, major euphemeral streams could also be visited on longer traverses.
Mt. Gee is an excellent example of a dissected high-level hydrothermal system that shows vertical zonation. It allows the search for fossil extremophiles at different levels in such systems and is therefore a useful training ground for the search of such fossils in the Martian context. Some of the worlds oldest fossils have been found here. Rocky slopes of approximately 20-30 degrees with local vertical outcrops represents a considerable challenge for vehicles and spacesuit activity. The area is extensively wooded by moderately sized trees.
possible astrobleme, springs
The association of a possible astrobleme and eroded remnants of spring and lake deposits make this a good geological analogue for Mars. Resolution of the formation of Mt. Toondina would be of considerable geological interest. Visually the area is probably a passable Martian analogue The terrain is not particularly challenging for an analogue rover vehicle.
creek bed, hot springs
Paralana hot spring is an excellent locality for extemeophiles, not onlybecause of high temperature but because of high background radioactivity. This is relevant to possible Martian oases associated with modern thermal springs on Mars that will be exposed to high levels of cosmic radiation.
Water springs in both their active mode and as old degraded features are useful in understanding possible springs on Mars. These springs are clearly oases of life in an otherwise hostile desert on Earth; similar springs may have been active on Mars. The dual importance of any upwelling of liquid water, both as an in situ resource and a possible biological harbour makes springs of this kind worthy of study.
longitudinal sand dunes overlying gibber plain
Visually the site is quite similar to Martian landscapes. The dunes are steep-sided and soft and would present difficulties for any vehicle. However it was possible to climb, so spacesuit tests would be possible. On the plain, the measured air temperature was 44 deg in the shade and 54 deg on the stone pavement.
The complex interrelationship of lacustrine, fluvial, and aeolian sediments and variable development of duricrusts offer good scientific analogues for Mars, although the prevalence of carbonate and sulphate soils and sediments may not be. The gibber plains, breakaways, channels, and dunes provide a good terrain for marsupial tests, and some parts, owing to sparse vegetation, are probably among the best for visual analogues. Overall rating very high.
The Todd River and its tributaries have been used as analogues for channels in the Libya Montes region of Mars. As the only area in Australia specifically used as a Martian analogue the scientific value of the area is high. Other analogue areas are unknown, although it is likely to provide suitable testing sites for analogue rover vehicles in areas of fluvial erosion and deposition and sand dunes. Vegetation may be dense for good visual analogues, but such areas may be possible with good site selection.
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