I need the attached lab completed in full please. Thank you!11
To identify a variety of types of Martian features.
To determine the relative ages of Martian features by their superposition.
To use measurements of crater density to determine relative ages of two regions on the
To familiarize yourself with the Martian surface
If you have not done so, read the section in your text on Mars. Look at all of the illustrations of
the Martian surface features. If you have done The Moon lab you should review the section on relative
There are two sections to this laboratory exercise: A close look at the surface features of Mars and
the creation of a global map locating some of those features.
In this lab, we will explore the many surface features of Mars. Shield Volcanoes are volcanoes
with long, sloping sides. At the summit of the volcano is a caldera. The caldera is formed as a result
of the collapse of a volcano, typically in association with a volcanic explosion. Mars is the home to the
largest volcano in the solar system. This volcano, known as Olympus Mons, is found in the northern
We will find on Mars, as we find on most of the surfaces in the solar system, impact craters
which are formed by the impact of a meteoroid with the surface. When the impact occurs, material is
thrown out by the explosive force that creates an impact crater. We call this material ejecta.
Other features found on Mars include tectonic fanlts and fractures. These long valleys are
caused when segments of the crust pull apart from each other. The largest valley in the solar system is
We also find evidence on Mars of water features. These features include streams, islands and
In this lab, you will explore two methods of determining the relative age of the features on Mars’s
surface. The first involves the principle of superposition. We explored this concept in the Moon lab.
In applying this principle, we find that when features overlap, the younger features are on top of the
older features. The second method involves a comparison of the number of craters on a surface, or
You have now nearly finished the preparation for the laboratory. If you are unsure of the material,
please reread the preparations, consult your textbook or ask questions of your instructor. Answer the
questions on the next page and be ready to hand them to your instructor at the start of lab.
Using your lecture textbook and/or any other acceptable source of information, answer each question
in complete sentences. Be sure to define any relevant terms.
Explain the following terms relating to Martian geologic surface features,
b. Tectonic faults/fractures:
d. Crater Density:
Describe the nature of the features on Mars’ surface with the following names,
a. Olympus Mons:
b. Valles Marineris:
Explain the following terms related to flow of water or other liquids on a surface,
b. Midstream/Teardrop Islands:
MARS LAB EXERCISE
To complete this lab, you will use a web-page which you can reach from the Elementary Astronomy
Laboratory homepage. Your instructor will show you the location of this page. From the homepage,
click on “MARS” to start the lab.
Scroll down until you see a star-filled screen with a few boxes and buttons above it. Eventually
we will use this to do a general survey of the surface of Mars. First however, let’s familiarize ourselves
with the types of features we find on the Martian surface. Above the star-filled screen, the second box
from the right gives access to a menu of images of Martian features. (It usually contains the
word” Volcanoes’ when the page is first loaded.) By clicking on the small T you open a menu which
displays a list of images of Mars from which you will choose. Every time you need a new image, just
open this menu again and click the feature you want. Start by opening up ‘Olympus Mons’. This is a
picture of the Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus). As we tour Mars, the size of the field of view will
change. In this case the size of the image is 700x700km. The irregular crater at the summit of the
volcano is called a caldera. It is approximately 70km across. Atlanta and the perimeter (1-285) would
fit very easily inside the caldera. The resolution (the size of the smallest feature you can distinguish)
will change also. However, resolution depends on many factors, (the resolution of the camera, how the
picture is stored in the computer, etc.), so we cannot list that information. In general the resolution is a
kilometer or so.
We will now take a short tour of a few of the many types of features, which we have discovered,
on Mars. In many cases they are similar to geological features we see on Earth, but Mars certainly has
created its own features in its own way. For example, your picture of Olympus Mons shows the largest
volcano in the solar system. It is a shield volcano formed over eons by hot lava flowing out onto the
surface of Mars. Notice the large central caldera at the top and the solidified lava down the side.
To look at another shield volcano open ‘Volcanoes’ from the menu. Again we see the lava flows
down the slope from the caldera.
Both of these volcanoes are evidence of vulcanism on Mars. Vulcanism is one of the four major
processes that form Martian surface features.
The four major surface-modifying processes include:
Vulcanism includes lava flows and volcanoes,
Impact features, include a large variety of impact craters,
Tectonic features consist of large cracks in the surface caused by large scale crustal shifts and
Before we move on to features other than vulcanism, look at the surface around the volcano.
How many craters do you see?
This is a region about 600×600 km or 360,000 square km.
Thus the crater density in this region is about
Now look at ‘Large Crater’ from the menu. This impact crater is about 120km in diameter.
Notice the dark patch in the center of the crater, which is lava that has filled the crater floor after the
impact. In the box below, sketch a rough picture of the crater walls. Larger craters and some of the
smaller ones (see the crater to the right of the large one, near the edge of the picture) also show the
ejecta thrown out by the impact. If the impact took place where there was enough subsurface water you
may see that the ejecta look like a splash in a mud puddle.
Sketch in the ejecta of the large crater.
Smaller craters may not have as much ejecta. Furthermore, since their impacts are less energetic they
may not experience a ‘rebound’ during the formation of the crater. This rebound often fills the floor of the
larger craters and so they have flat floors. In the same picture you should be able to see several craters with
bowl-shaped floors. (They show darker shadows in the crater floors because they are deeper.)
Draw circles with ‘ B ‘ (for bowl-shape) on your sketch where a few of them are located.
Anywhere on the surface where there have been crustal shifts the surface can develop tectonic
fractures or faults. The largest of these is the Valles Marineris, which extends nearly 4000 km across
the Martian surface near the equator. A piece of it is shown in ‘Water Feature.’ (This picture is
approximately 300x300km and has been named ‘Water Feature’ only because it shows some water
flow in the bottom of Valles Marineris. Valles Marineris was NOT created by water erosion, but by
crustal uplift and cracking.) First note the smooth regions in the upper left and lower right comers of
the picture. This is the original surface, which cracked open when the ground was pushed up from
below. You can see the scalloped edges of this large crustal split, as well as a central piece of the
original surface. The cliffs, sculpted by wind erosion, are several km high. In some parts of the floor of
Valles Marineris, such as this one, we can see landslides, which have been caused by material falling
away from the clifl” and piling up on the floor of the valley. Wind erosion is also evident in the many
mounds in the floor of the Valles.
One of the exciting surprises astronomers found on Mars was the presence of water features.
Sometimes these features seem to be formed by sub-surface water gushing out onto the surfaces producin
flash floods. Other times the water seems to have been in the form of precipitation during a period
when the Martian atmosphere was much denser. ‘Crater Chain’ (300x300km) shows one such feature.
Unlike rilles formed by flowing lava or tectonic faults, water features: are usually winding, have deposits
on the outside edges of bends or in tear dropped-shaped ‘midstream islands’, and often show branching
into smaller streambeds. In the upper left of this picture there is a crater with its southern wall cut by an
incoming stream. You can follow that stream south to see a great number of smaller tributaries feeding
it. Evidently, rain falling in that area flowed through this stream system and collected in the crater.
Right near the top edge there is a small crater with a very faint tail of material extending upward and to
the right. Craters in flood plains sometimes show these teardrop islands extending downstream behind
them. Water must have flowed past this crater from the lower left leaving material deposited behind it.
Contrast all these water features with the tectonic features just to the right of them. Look for straight
intersecting cracks in the smooth area in the top middle of the picture.
In the box below, draw the streams, the crater they run into, the material deposited downstream
from the small crater and the tectonic features. Label each feature.
One way to learn about past stages in the evolution of the Earth is to investigate the Moon,
Mercury and Mars. Their surfaces preserve many of the phenomena that happened some 3 to 4 billion
years ago and that have long vanished on the Earth.
Ideally, we would like to date craters, volcanoes, etc., absolutely; that is, we would like to determine
how many years ago these features were formed. For instance, radioactive dating of lunar samples
returned to Earth enabled scientists to determine the approximate time when lava flowed on the Moon
(about 4 billion years ago). In practice we have been able to do this only for the Earth and for a very
few samples from the Moon.
More generally, photography and mapping of planets and their features can tell us relative ages;
that is, they help determine whether a canyon or volcano was made before or after some craters on the
The method of superposition is one way of determining relative ages of surfaces. Whatever is on
top of or partially obliterates another feature is the younger.
Display ‘Cratered Region’ (300x300km). You will see many craters and their ejecta. A few of the
craters have been numbered 1 though 5 on the image. The most obvious superposition is crater 2 on
crater 1 and a very small crater next to 2 on crater 1. Further there is a small crater inside 2. This means
crater 1 is older than 2 and it is also older than either of the smaller craters. The small crater inside 2 is
younger than crater 2, itself. The relative ages of crater 2 and the small crater next to it cannot be
determined unless we could see ejecta from one top of the other. Another example is craters 4 and 5.
As 5 has broken the rim of 4, it had to be formed more recently. More difficult to decide is whether
Crater 1 or 3 is older. I f crater 3 had more overlap with 1 it might be easier to tell. As it is, we might
have to hope for a picture with higher resolution to solve the problem. Remember i f there is no
superposition of one feature on another, nothing can be said about the relative ages.
Test yourself on your ability to use superposition to determine ages.
Put in order according to relative age. (Circle one, if you can’t tell circle both)
Crater 1 is (older, younger) than crater 2
Crater 3 is (older, younger) than crater 1
Crater 4 is (older, younger) than crater 1
Crater 3 is (older, younger) than crater 4
A second method of determining relative ages of a surface depends on crater density; that is, the
number of craters in a given area. The idea is that rocks of all sizes have been falling on the planets ever
since the planets formed, and the impacts produced craters. I f the craters in an area are never again
altered and are not covered up by lava or dust, then the number of craters is so large that they generally
overlap. Large portions of the Moon and Mars are totally covered with overlapping craters. But if the
craters are flooded with lava (as on some portions of the Moon and Mars) or eroded (as on Earth) or
covered by dust (as are very small craters on Mars), then we see fewer craters in such an area; namely,
only those craters that have formed since these destructive events. Therefore, the fewer the craters, the
younger the surface.
Take a quick look again at ‘Volcanoes’. Then display ‘Cratered Region’. Count the number of
craters (approximately) which you can see in ‘Crater Region’.
Number of craters
This 300×300 picture is 90,000 square km in area so the crater density is
Compare the region see in ‘Volcanoes’ with that of ‘Cratered Region’.
Which has the highest crater density?
Which is the oldest surface?
What has happened on the Martian surface to make these crater densities so different?
Make the following estimate: The cratered region contains about
ters as the volcanic region.
Suppose now that we could measure an absolute age of 3 billion years for the volcanic region of
Mars, and suppose also that the rate of cratering (number of craters formed per billion years) has
always been the same in the past. Then, what age would you deduce for the cratered region and
for all of Mars, using your estimate above?
The age would be roughly
times as many cra-
What is wrong with that conclusion? Which supposition in Questions 13 is easier to give up that the absolute age of the volcanic region of Mars is 3 billion years OR that the rate of cratering
has always been constant? Explain your reasoning.
Test yourself on your ability to use crater density to determine ages.
Display ‘Lava Flow’.
Use the box below as an outline of the image. Sketch the dividing line between older and younger
surface and label which is which.
It is evident that there are two very distinct type of Martian surfaces: Younger regions covered
with lava and older regions with many craters. In this respect Mars is somewhat like the Moon in
having older cratered highlands and younger lower basaltic plains. However, vulcanism on Mars was
much more widespread and did not confine itself to maria basins as on the Moon.
We are going to do a quick survey of the Martian surface as seen from a NASA spacecraft. On the
worksheet labeled Mars Map we are going to sketch the following:
The cratered highlands
The volcano seen in the ‘Volcanoes’ picture, and any other large volcanoes.
The Valles Marineris, including the piece seen in ‘Water Feature’
At least one good sized water feature
To display any region of Mars between 47 degrees north and south latitude you may enter its
coordinates in the latitude and longitude boxes above the screen. Note that for north (+) and south (-)
latitudes you may set the small box with an N and S. Longitude is measured between 0 and 360 and is
always positive just like on the earth. Start by displaying latitude 0 degrees (the equator) and longitude
180 degrees. Enter 0 in the latitude box and 180 in the longitude (you may use the ‘Tab’ key to skip
from box to box.) Click on Submit. You will see a map of Mars 45 degrees wide in longitude and 25
degrees high in latitude centered on 0 latitude and 180 longitude. Please remember that the coordinates
you enter are the CENTER of the map. Because the maps do not extend past 47 degrees north and
south, you cannot choose latitude centers greater than 36 degrees N or S. Further, the maps do not wrap
around at 0 (360) degrees longitude so you must contain your longitude choices between 20 and 337
degrees. Finally, BOTH numbers you enter must be positive. Remember to get south of the equator
you must select S in the small N/S box. I f you enter numbers incorrectly you will be told to try again.
If you can’t seem to get a map ask your instructor for help.
Before you start your survey, you should plan your attack. Moving East to West along a constant
latitude makes it easier to see the boundaries between the lava plains and the cratered highlands. Do
not search the map randomly for features. Remember you can see only a piece 25×45 degrees. Don’t
forget to do both north AND south hemispheres! Keep referring to the checklist above to make sure
you get each item. Label each carefully! As you survey, sketch very lightly the regions that have many
craters. When you finish you should be able to draw a line (certainly not a straight line) dividing the
cratered highlands from the smooth basaltic plains.
The highlands are mostly in the
Olympus Mons and the other volcanoes are mostly in the
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