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The Argyre Region as a Prime Target for in situ Astrobiological Exploration of Mars

Fairén, Alberto G. and Dohm, James M. and Rodríguez, J. Alexis P. and Uceda, Esther R. and Kargel, Jeffrey and Soare, Richard and Cleaves, H. James and Oehler, Dorothy and Schulze-Makuch, Dirk and Essefi, Elhoucine and Banks, Maria E. and Komatsu, Goro and Fink, Wolfgang and Robbins, Stuart and Yan, Jianguo and Miyamoto, Hideaki and Maruyama, Shigenori and Baker, Victor R. (2016) The Argyre Region as a Prime Target for in situ Astrobiological Exploration of Mars. Astrobiology, 16 (2). pp. 143-158. ISSN 1531-1074. doi:10.1089/ast.2015.1396.

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At the time before ∼3.5 Ga that life originated and began to spread on Earth, Mars was a wetter and more geologically dynamic planet than it is today. The Argyre basin, in the southern cratered highlands of Mars, formed from a giant impact at ∼3.93 Ga, which generated an enormous basin approximately 1800 km in diameter. The early post-impact environment of the Argyre basin possibly contained many of the ingredients that are thought to be necessary for life: abundant and long-lived liquid water, biogenic elements, and energy sources, all of which would have supported a regional environment favorable for the origin and the persistence of life. We discuss the astrobiological significance of some landscape features and terrain types in the Argyre region that are promising and accessible sites for astrobiological exploration. These include (i) deposits related to the hydrothermal activity associated with the Argyre impact event, subsequent impacts, and those associated with the migration of heated water along Argyre-induced basement structures; (ii) constructs along the floor of the basin that could mark venting of volatiles, possibly related to the development of mud volcanoes; (iii) features interpreted as ice-cored mounds (open-system pingos), whose origin and development could be the result of deeply seated groundwater upwelling to the surface; (iv) sedimentary deposits related to the formation of glaciers along the basin's margins, such as evidenced by the ridges interpreted to be eskers on the basin floor; (v) sedimentary deposits related to the formation of lakes in both the primary Argyre basin and other smaller impact-derived basins along the margin, including those in the highly degraded rim materials; and (vi) crater-wall gullies, whose morphology points to a structural origin and discharge of (wet) flows.

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Additional Information:© 2016 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Submitted 6 August 2015. Accepted 11 October 2015. Online Ahead of Print: February 2, 2016. The research leading to these results is a contribution from the Project "icyMARS," funded by the European Research Council, Starting Grant no 307496. J.M.D. was supported by the NASA PG&G Program and JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 26106002 [Hadean BioScience (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas)]. J.M.D. and H.M. express their gratitude to the Tokyo Dome Corporation for their support of the TeNQ exhibit and the branch of Space Exploration Education & Discovery, the University Museum, the University of Tokyo. H.J.C. would like to thank the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Earth-Life Science Institute for funding during the preparation of this manuscript. D.Z.O. is grateful to the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division at Johnson Space Center for support. D.S.-M. was supported by European Research Council, Advanced Grant "Habitability of Martian Environments," no 339231. The authors want to thank Chris McKay for a constructive review of this paper. No competing financial interests exist.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research Council (ERC)307496
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)2610600
European Research Council (ERC)339231
Tokyo Dome CorporationUNSPECIFIED
University of TokyoUNSPECIFIED
Tokyo Institute of TechnologyUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160209-081649264
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Official Citation:The Argyre Region as a Prime Target for in situ Astrobiological Exploration of Mars To cite this article: Fairén Alberto G., Dohm James M., Rodríguez J. Alexis P., Uceda Esther R., Kargel Jeffrey, Soare Richard, Cleaves H. James, Oehler Dorothy, Schulze-Makuch Dirk, Essefi Elhoucine, Banks Maria E., Komatsu Goro, Fink Wolfgang, Robbins Stuart, Yan Jianguo, Miyamoto Hideaki, Maruyama Shigenori, and Baker Victor R.. Astrobiology. February 2016, 16(2): 143-158. doi:10.1089/ast.2015.1396.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:64324
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Feb 2016 20:01
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 23:29

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