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The State and Future of Mars Polar Science and Exploration

Clifford, Stephen M. and Ingersoll, Andy P. and Murray, Bruce (2000) The State and Future of Mars Polar Science and Exploration. Icarus, 144 (2). pp. 210-242. ISSN 0019-1035. doi:10.1006/icar.1999.6290.

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As the planet's principal cold traps, the martian polar regions have accumulated extensive mantles of ice and dust that cover individual areas of ∼10^6 km^2 and total as much as 3–4 km thick. From the scarcity of superposed craters on their surface, these layered deposits are thought to be comparatively young—preserving a record of the seasonal and climatic cycling of atmospheric CO_2, H_2O, and dust over the past ∼10^5–10^8 years. For this reason, the martian polar deposits may serve as a Rosetta Stone for understanding the geologic and climatic history of the planet—documenting variations in insolation (due to quasiperiodic oscillations in the planet's obliquity and orbital elements), volatile mass balance, atmospheric composition, dust storm activity, volcanic eruptions, large impacts, catastrophic floods, solar luminosity, supernovae, and perhaps even a record of microbial life. Beyond their scientific value, the polar regions may soon prove important for another reason—providing a valuable and accessible reservoir of water to support the long-term human exploration of Mars. In this paper we assess the current state of Mars polar research, identify the key questions that motivate the exploration of the polar regions, discuss the extent to which current missions will address these questions, and speculate about what additional capabilities and investigations may be required to address the issues that remain outstanding.

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Ingersoll, Andy P.0000-0002-2035-9198
Additional Information:© 2000 by Academic Press. Received July 20, 1999; revised October 25, 1999. This summary benefited from the input of the more than one-hundred terrestrial and planetary scientists who participated in the First International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration, which was held at Camp Allen, Texas, October 18–22, 1998. It also benefited from a helpful review and edit by James Bell. Work performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology,was carried out under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This is Lunar and-Planetary Institute Contribution 987. Note added in proof. Mars polar science was dealt yet another major setback with the loss of the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) and Deep Space-2 (DS-2) missions in December. Although the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft continues to return a wealth of new data about the nature and seasonal evolution of the poles, its recent discoveries have reemphasized the importance of addressing the science questions that originally motivated the MPL and DS-2 missions. It is hoped that this lost opportunity will be recovered in an ambitious return to the poles within the next decade.
Group:UNSPECIFIED, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Mars, surface; Mars, atmosphere; Mars, climate; ices; exobiology.
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Lunar and-Planetary Institute 987
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130124-090538648
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Official Citation:Stephen M. Clifford, David Crisp, David A. Fisher, Ken E. Herkenhoff, Suzanne E. Smrekar, Peter C. Thomas, David D. Wynn-Williams, Richard W. Zurek, Jeffrey R. Barnes, Bruce G. Bills, Erik W. Blake, Wendy M. Calvin, Jonathan M. Cameron, Michael H. Carr, Philip R. Christensen, Benton C. Clark, Gary D. Clow, James A. Cutts, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, William B. Durham, Fraser P. Fanale, Jack D. Farmer, Francois Forget, Kumiko Gotto-Azuma, Rejean Grard, Robert M. Haberle, William Harrison, Ralph Harvey, Alan D. Howard, Andy P. Ingersoll, Philip B. James, Jeffrey S. Kargel, Hugh H. Kieffer, Janus Larsen, Kenneth Lepper, Michael C. Malin, Daniel J. McCleese, Bruce Murray, John F. Nye, David A. Paige, Stephen R. Platt, Jeff J. Plaut, Niels Reeh, James W. Rice Jr., David E. Smith, Carol R. Stoker, Kenneth L. Tanaka, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Thorsteinn Thorsteinsson, Stephen E. Wood, Aaron Zent, Maria T. Zuber, H. Jay Zwally, The State and Future of Mars Polar Science and Exploration, Icarus, Volume 144, Issue 2, April 2000, Pages 210-242, ISSN 0019-1035, 10.1006/icar.1999.6290. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36559
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:24 Jan 2013 17:35
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:22

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