Publication archive

Publication archive

Images from the Mars Express HRSC (High-Resolution Stereo Camera) of debris aprons at the base of massifs in eastern Hellas reveal numerous concentrically ridged lobate and pitted features and related evidence of extremely ice-rich glacier-like viscous flow and sublimation. Together with new evidence for recent ice-rich rock glaciers at the base of the Olympus Mons scarp superposed on larger Late Amazonian debris-covered piedmont glaciers, we interpret these deposits as evidence for geologically recent and recurring glacial activity in tropical and mid-latitude regions of Mars during periods of increased spin-axis obliquity when polar ice was mobilized and redeposited in microenvironments at lower latitudes. The data indicate that abundant residual ice probably remains in these deposits and that these records of geologically recent climate changes are accessible to future automated and human surface exploration.
Published: 17 March 2005
The majority of volcanic products on Mars are thought to be mafic and effusive. Explosive eruptions of basic to ultrabasic chemistry are expected to be common, but evidence for them is rare and mostly confined to very old surface features. Here we present new image and topographic data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera that reveal previously unknown traces of an explosive eruption at 30° N and 149° E on the northwestern flank of the shield volcano Hecates Tholus. The eruption created a large, 10-km-diameter caldera ~350 million years ago. We interpret these observations to mean that large-scale explosive volcanism on Mars was not confined to the planet's early evolution. We also show that glacial deposits partly fill the caldera and an adjacent depression. Their age, derived from crater counts, is about 5 to 24 million years. Climate models predict that near-surface ice is not stable at mid-latitudes today, assuming a thermo-dynamic steady state. Therefore, the discovery of very young glacial features at Hecates Tholus suggests recent climate changes. We show that the absolute ages of these very recent glacial deposits correspond very well to a period of increased obliquity of the planet's rotational axis.
Published: 17 March 2005
It is thought that the Cerberus Fossae fissures on Mars were the source of both lava and water floods two to ten million years ago. Evidence for the resulting lava plains has been identified in eastern Elysium, but seas and lakes from these fissures and previous water flooding events were presumed to have evaporated and sublimed away. Here we present High Resolution Stereo Camera images from the European Space Agency Mars Express spacecraft that indicate that such lakes may still exist. We infer that the evidence is consistent with a frozen body of water, with surface pack-ice, around 5° north latitude and 150° east longitude in southern Elysium. The frozen lake measures about 800 x 900 km in lateral extent and may be up to 45 metres deep - similar in size and depth to the North Sea. From crater counts, we determined its age to be 5 ± 2 million years old. If our interpretation is confirmed, this is a place that might preserve evidence of primitive life, if it has ever developed on Mars.
Published: 17 March 2005
Discoveries made with the High Resolution Stereo Camera on the Mars Express orbiter show that, as recently as a few million years ago, the surface of Mars was being shaped by flowing water, lava and ice.
Published: 17 March 2005
Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is the only satellite in the Solar System with a substantial atmosphere. The atmosphere is poorly understood and obscures the surface, leading to intense speculation about Titan's nature. Here we present observations of Titan from the imaging science experiment onboard the Cassini spacecraft that address some of these issues. The images reveal intricate surface albedo features that suggest aeolian, tectonic and fluvial processes; they also show a few circular features that could be impact structures. These observations imply that substantial surface modification has occurred over Titan's history. We have not directly detected liquids on the surface to date. Convective clouds are found to be common near the south pole, and the motion of mid-latitude clouds consistently indicates eastward winds, from which we infer that the troposphere is rotating faster than the surface. A detached haze at an altitude of 500 km is 150-200 km higher than that observed by Voyager, and more tenuous haze layers are also resolved.
Published: 10 March 2005
Scientists were ecstatic last weekend as Titan, Saturn's largest moon, dramatically revealed itself to have the atmosphere-bearing, hydrocarbon-based landscape they had anticipated. But Huygens, the European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft that successfully parachuted through Titan's atmosphere on 14 January, has also revealed its share of surprises. The high-risk mission had functioned better than its designers had dared to expect - and they quickly reported that the moon looked even more interesting than they had hoped.
Published: 20 January 2005
The large-area coverage at a resolution of 10-20 metres per pixel in colour and three dimensions with the High Resolution Stereo Camera Experiment on the European Space Agency Mars Express Mission has made it possible to study the time-stratigraphic relationships of volcanic and glacial structures in unprecedented detail and give insight into the geological evolution of Mars. Here we show that calderas on five major volcanoes on Mars have undergone repeated activation and resurfacing during the last 20 per cent of martian history, with phases of activity as young as two million years, suggesting that the volcanoes are potentially still active today. Glacial deposits at the base of the Olympus Mons escarpment show evidence for repeated phases of activity asrecently as about four million years ago.Morphological evidence is found that snowand ice deposition on the Olympus construct at elevations of more than 7,000 metres led to episodes of glacial activity at this height. Even now, water ice protected by an insulating layer of dust may be present at high altitudes on Olympus Mons.
Published: 23 December 2004
Data from the Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces, et l'Activite (OMEGA) on the Mars Express spacecraft identify the distinct mafic, rock-forming minerals olivine, low-calcium pyroxene (LCP), and high-calcium pyroxene (HCP) on the surface of Mars. Olivine- and HCP-rich regions are found in deposits that span the age range of geologic units. However, LCP-rich regions are found only in the ancient Noachian-aged units, which suggests that melts for these deposits were derived from a mantle depleted in aluminum and calcium. Extended dark regions in the northern plains exhibit no evidence of strong mafic absorptions or absorptions due to hydrated materials.
Published: 11 March 2005
The OMEGA/Mars Express hyperspectral imager identified hydrated sulfates on light-toned layered terrains on Mars. Outcrops in Valles Marineris, Margaritifer Sinus, and Terra Meridiani show evidence for kieserite, gypsum, and polyhydrated sulfates. This identification has its basis in vibrational absorptions between 1.3 and 2.5 micrometers. These minerals constitute direct records of the past aqueous activity on Mars.
Published: 11 March 2005
The Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces, et l'Activite (OMEGA) imaging spectrometer observed the northern circumpolar regions of Mars at a resolution of a few kilometers. An extended region at 240°E, 85°N, with an area of 60 kilometers by 200 kilometers, exhibits absorptions at wavelengths of 1.45, 1.75, 1.94, 2.22, 2.26 and 2.48 micrometers. These signatures can be unambiguously attributed to calcium-rich sulfates, most likely gypsum. This region corresponds to the dark longitudinal dunes of Olympia Planitia. These observations reveal that water alteration played a major role in the formation of the constituting minerals of northern circumpolar terrains.
Published: 11 March 2005
The Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces, et l'Activite (OMEGA) visible-infrared imaging spectrometer extensively observed regions of Mars with latitudes above 70° N in late 2004 (heliocentric longitude from Ls 93° to Ls 127°). The extent of water ice at the surface and the size of ice grains were monitored as a function of time. Bright, small-grained frost, which initially covered a large fraction of the polar cap, waned in favor of large-grained ice. In outlying regions, dominated by largegrained ice, the albedo increased over the period. Evaluating the dust content was model dependent. However, contamination of ice by dust was low.
Published: 11 March 2005
The Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces, et l'Activite (OMEGA) investigation, on board the European Space Agency Mars Express mission, is mapping the surface composition of Mars at a 0.3- to 5-kilometer resolution by means of visible/near-infrared hyperspectral reflectance imagery. The data acquired during the first 9 months of the mission already reveal a diverse and complex surface mineralogy, offering key insights into the evolution of Mars. OMEGA has identified and mapped mafic iron-bearing silicates of both the northern and southern crust, localized concentrations of hydrated phyllosilicates and sulfates but no carbonates, and ices and frosts with a water-ice composition of the north polar perennial cap, as for the south cap, covered by a thin carbon dioxide-ice veneer.
Published: 11 March 2005
The Mars Express Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces, et l'Activite (OMEGA) hyperspectral image data covering eastern Terra Meridiani indicate the ubiquitous presence of molecular water in etched terrain materials that disconformably overlie heavily cratered terrains and underlie the hematite-bearing plains explored by the Opportunity rover. Identification of crystalline water in kieserite (MgSO4IH2O) is linked to materials exposed in a valley and plateau to the north of hematite-bearing plains. The mineralogical similarities between the etched terrain deposits examined with OMEGA data and the layered rocks examined by Opportunity imply that the ancient aqueous environments inferred from analyses of the rover data extend over regional scales.
Published: 11 March 2005
Presented at the 36th Annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, March 14-18, 2005, in League City, Texas, abstract no.2404

ESA's SMART-1 is at the Moon! Launched by Ariane-5 in Sept. 2003, it used primary solar electric propulsion to reach lunar capture on 17 November 2004, and to spiral down to lunar science orbit. First data and results from the cruise approach and lunar commissioning will be presented.

Published: 15 March 2005
Using an absorption cell, we measured the Doppler shifts of the interstellar hydrogen resonance glow to show the direction of the neutral hydrogen flow as it enters the inner heliosphere. The neutral hydrogen flow is found to be deflected relative to the helium flow by about 4 degrees. The most likely explanation of this deflection is a distortion of the heliosphere under the action of an ambient interstellar magnetic field. In this case, the helium flow vector and the hydrogen flow vector constrain the direction of the magnetic field and act as an interstellar magnetic compass.
Published: 04 March 2005
The Chandra X-ray observatory monitored the single cool star, AB Doradus, continuously for a period lasting 88 ksec (1.98 Prot) in 2002 December with the LETG/HRC-S. The X-ray lightcurve shows rotational modulation, with three peaks that repeat in two consecutive rotation cycles. These peaks may indicate the presence of compact emitting regions in the quiescent corona. Centroid shifts as a function of phase in the strongest line profile, O VIII 18.97 A, indicate Doppler rotational velocities with a semi-amplitude of 30 +/- 10 km/s. By taking these diagnostics into account along with constraints on the rotational broadening of line profiles (provided by archival Chandra HETG Fe XVII and FUSE Fe XVIII profile we can construct a simple model of the X-ray corona that requires two components. One of these components is responsible for 80% of the X-ray emission, and arises from the pole and/or a homogeneously distributed corona. The second component consists of two or three compact active regions that cause modulation in the lightcurve and contribute to the O VIII centroid shifts. These compact regions account for 16% of the emission and are located near the stellar surface with heights of less than 0.3R*. At least one of the compact active regions is located in the partially obscured hemisphere of the inclined star, while one of the other active regions may be located at 40 degrees. High quality X-ray data such as these can test the models of the coronal magnetic field configuration as inferred from magnetic Zeeman Doppler imaging.
Published: 10 March 2005
We present results of a systematic analysis of the XMM-Newton spectra of 40 quasars (QSOs) (z<~1.72) from the Palomar-Green (PG) Bright Quasar Survey sample (MB<-23). The sample includes 35 radio-quiet quasars (RQQs) and 5 radio-loud quasars (RLQs). The analysis of the spectra above 2 keV reveals that the hard X-ray continuum emission can be modeled with a power law component with = 1.89+/-0.11 and = 1.63(+0.02,-0.01) for the RQQs and RLQs, respectively. Below 2 keV, a strong, broad excess is present in most QSO spectra. This feature has been fitted with four different models assuming several physical scenarios. All tested models (blackbody, multicolor blackbody, bremsstrahlung and power law) satisfactorily fitted the majority of the spectra. However, none of them is able to provide an adequate parameterization for the soft excess emission in all QSOs, indicating the absence of an universal shape for this spectral feature. An additional cold absorption component was required only in three sources. On the other hand, as recently pointed out by Porquet et al. (2004) for a smaller sample of PG QSOs, warm absorber features are present in ~50% of the QSO spectra in contrast with their rare occurrence (~5-10%) found in previous studies. The XMM-Newton view of optically-selected bright QSOs therefore suggests that there are no significant difference in the X-ray spectral properties once compared with the low-luminosity Seyfert 1 galaxies. Properties of the Fe Kalpha emission lines are presented in a companion paper.
Published: 10 March 2005
This note summarises the status of the Gaia project at the end of 2004, describing the progress achieved in 2004, and summarising the major ongoing and planned activities. An important development was the appointment of the Gaia Project Team within the Projects Department of the ESA Directorate of Science, signifying the transition from study to project phase. The target launch date is 1 December 2011. Compared to the target 1 year ago, this represents a delay of more than 1 year. On the positive side, this corresponds to a technical feasibility assessment of the newProject Team, and may still be compared with the 'not later than 2012' launch target mandated by the Science Programme Committee when the project was accepted by ESA in 2000.
Published: 08 March 2005
During Nov. 26-29, 2003 XMM-Newton observed soft (0.2-2 keV) X-ray emission from Jupiter for 69 hours. The low-latitude X-ray disk emission of Jupiter is observed to be almost uniform in intensity with brightness that is consistent with a solar-photon driven process. The simultaneous light curves of Jovian equatorial X rays and solar X rays (measured by the TIMED/SEE and GOES satellites) show similar day-to-day variability. A large solar X-ray flare occurring on the Jupiter-facing side of the Sun is found to have a corresponding feature in the Jovian X rays. These results support the hypothesis that X-ray emission from Jovian low-latitudes are solar X rays scattered from the planet's upper atmosphere, and suggest that the Sun directly controls the non-auroral X rays from Jupiter's disk. Our study also suggests that Jovian equatorial X rays can be used to monitor the solar X-ray flare activity on the hemisphere of the Sun that is invisible to space weather satellites.
Published: 18 January 2005

The presentation was given at the SPC meeting in Paris on 10 February 2005 and presented the status of the SMART-1 mission, as well as a case for a 1 year mission extension.

Author: Bernard Foing et al.

Link to Publication[pdf, 7.9 Mb]
Additional Slides[pdf, 4.5 Mb]

Published: 10 February 2005
23-Nov-2020 17:06 UT

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