The global topography of Mars and implications for surface evolution.
Elevations measured by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter have yielded a high-accuracy global map of the topography of Mars. Dominant features include the low northern hemisphere, the Tharsis province, and the Hellas impact basin. The northern hemisphere depression is primarily a long-wavelength effect that has been shaped by an internal mechanism. The topography of Tharsis consists of two broad rises. Material excavated from Hellas contributes to the high elevation of the southern hemisphere and to the scarp along the hemispheric boundary. The present topography has three major drainage centers, with the northern lowlands being the largest. The two polar cap volumes yield an upper limit of the present surface water inventory of 3.2 to 4.7 million cubic kilometers. (+info)
Dissociation of CH4 at high pressures and temperatures: diamond formation in giant planet interiors?
Experiments using laser-heated diamond anvil cells show that methane (CH4) breaks down to form diamond at pressures between 10 and 50 gigapascals and temperatures of about 2000 to 3000 kelvin. Infrared absorption and Raman spectroscopy, along with x-ray diffraction, indicate the presence of polymeric hydrocarbons in addition to the diamond, which is in agreement with theoretical predictions. Dissociation of CH4 at high pressures and temperatures can influence the energy budgets of planets containing substantial amounts of CH4, water, and ammonia, such as Uranus and Neptune. (+info)
Is redshift-dependent evolution of galaxies a theoretical artifact?
The physical validity of the hypothesis of (redshift-dependent) luminosity evolution in galaxies is tested by statistical analysis of an intensively studied complete high-redshift sample of normal galaxies. The necessity of the evolution hypothesis in the frame of big-bang cosmology is confirmed at a high level of statistical significance; however, this evolution is quantitatively just as predicted by chronometric cosmology, in which there is no such evolution. Since there is no direct observational means to establish the evolution postulated in big-bang studies of higher-redshift galaxies, and the chronometric predictions involve no adjustable parameters (in contrast to the two in big-bang cosmology), the hypothesized evolution appears from the standpoint of conservative scientific methodology as a possible theoretical artifact. (+info)
Possible ancient oceans on Mars: evidence from Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter data.
High-resolution altimetric data define the detailed topography of the northern lowlands of Mars, and a range of data is consistent with the hypothesis that a lowland-encircling geologic contact represents the ancient shoreline of a large standing body of water present in middle Mars history. The contact altitude is close to an equipotential line, the topography is smoother at all scales below the contact than above it, the volume enclosed by this contact is within the range of estimates of available water on Mars, and a series of extensive terraces parallel the contact in many places. (+info)
Internal structure and early thermal evolution of Mars from Mars Global Surveyor topography and gravity.
Topography and gravity measured by the Mars Global Surveyor have enabled determination of the global crust and upper mantle structure of Mars. The planet displays two distinct crustal zones that do not correlate globally with the geologic dichotomy: a region of crust that thins progressively from south to north and encompasses much of the southern highlands and Tharsis province and a region of approximately uniform crustal thickness that includes the northern lowlands and Arabia Terra. The strength of the lithosphere beneath the ancient southern highlands suggests that the northern hemisphere was a locus of high heat flow early in martian history. The thickness of the elastic lithosphere increases with time of loading in the northern plains and Tharsis. The northern lowlands contain structures interpreted as large buried channels that are consistent with northward transport of water and sediment to the lowlands before the end of northern hemisphere resurfacing. (+info)
Fullerenes: an extraterrestrial carbon carrier phase for noble gases.
In this work, we report on the discovery of naturally occurring fullerenes (C60 to C400) in the Allende and Murchison meteorites and some sediment samples from the 65 million-year-old Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary layer (KTB). Unlike the other pure forms of carbon (diamond and graphite), fullerenes are extractable in an organic solvent (e.g., toluene or 1,2,4-trichlorobenzene). The recognition of this unique property led to the detection and isolation of the higher fullerenes in the Kratschmer/Huffmann arc evaporated graphite soot and in the carbon material in the meteorite and impact deposits. By further exploiting the unique ability of the fullerene cage structure to encapsulate and retain noble gases, we have determined that both the Allende and Murchison fullerenes and the KTB fullerenes contain trapped noble gases with ratios that can only be described as extraterrestrial in origin. (+info)
Isotopes, ice ages, and terminal Proterozoic earth history.
Detailed correlations of ancient glacial deposits, based on temporal records of carbon and strontium isotopes in seawater, indicate four (and perhaps five) discrete ice ages in the terminal Proterozoic Eon. The close and repeated stratigraphic relationship between C-isotopic excursions and glaciogenic rocks suggests that unusually high rates of organic carbon burial facilitated glaciation by reducing atmospheric greenhouse capacity. The emerging framework of time and environmental change contributes to the improved resolution of stratigraphic and evolutionary pattern in the early fossil record of animals. (+info)
Redox state of Mars' upper mantle and crust from Eu anomalies in shergottite pyroxenes.
The oxidation state of basaltic martian meteorites is determined from the partitioning of europium (Eu) in their pyroxenes. The estimated redox conditions for these samples correlate with their initial neodymium and strontium isotopic compositions. This is interpreted to imply varying degrees of interaction between the basaltic parent melts, derived from a source in the martian mantle, and a crustal component. Thus, the mantle source of these martian basalts may have a redox state close to that of the iron-wustite buffer, whereas the martian crust may be more oxidized (with a redox state higher than or equal to that of the quartz-fayalite-magnetite buffer). A difference in redox state of more than 3 log units between mantle and crustal reservoirs on Mars could result from oxidation of the crust by a process such as aqueous alteration, together with a subsequent lack of recycling of this oxidized crust through the reduced upper mantle. (+info)