Decoding Mars

With your skills to decipher patterns in outcrops, satellite images, and thin sections, you are now ready for the ultimate challenge: Decoding Mars.

On the following page you'll see a number of images that have been sent back from the red planet. Your challenge will be to apply your new knowledge to questions about the geologic history of Mars based on the photographic evidence you see.

Mars

Use your skills to decipher the images below from Mars.

Add the images to your FIELD BOOK and label them OR draw and label the images on your DATA SHEET.

First, record whether each images is 1) an outcrop, 2) a satellite image, or 3) a thin section of rock.
Then, record what each image shows about the geology of Mars:

  • Are there horizontal layers, folded layers, or faulted layers?
  • Is there evidence of dunes, flowing water, or volcanoes?
  • What about rock types - sedimentary, metamorphic, or igneous?

When you're done, proceed to the NEXT STEP to check your answers.

Image 1
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Image 1
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Image 2
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Image 3
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Image 4
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Image 5
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What did you see on Mars? Are your identifications the same as these?

Look closely at the questions accompanying each photo. Give them some thought and write answers in your Field Book or on your Data Sheet.

Then click FINISH to proceed to the Summary for more on what Smithsonian scientists are learning about these and other questions about our nearest planetary neighbor.

Satellite image - DUNES - Noachis Terra Region, Mars
Why would Mars have dunes? What could dunes tell you about the atmosphere or weather on Mars?
Satellite image - DUNES - Noachis Terra Region, Mars
Why would Mars have dunes? What could dunes tell you about the atmosphere or weather on Mars?
Thin Section - IGNEOUS ROCK - Martian meteorite MIL 03346
Only igneous rock has been identified in Martian meteorites. Can you think of any reasons why that might be?
Satellite image - VOLCANO - Olympus Mons, Mars
What might evidence of volcanoes tell you about the core of planet Mars?
Satellite image - FLOWING WATER
Does it look like water is still evident in this photo? Where do you think the water has gone?
Outcrop - HORIZONTAL LAYERS - At 'Payson' in Meridiani Planum, Mars
What do the horizontal layers suggest about rock formation on Mars?

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