Exploring Martian impact craters: what they can reveal about the subsurface and why they are important in the search for life

Schwenzer, S. P.; Abramov, O.; Allen, C. C.; Clifford, S.; Filiberto, J.; Kring, D. A.; Lasue, J.; McGovern, P. J.; Newsom, H. E.; Treiman, A.; Vaniman, D. T.; Wiens, R. C. and Wittmann, A. (2010). Exploring Martian impact craters: what they can reveal about the subsurface and why they are important in the search for life. In: 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, 01-05 Mar 2010, Houston, TX, USA.

URL: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2010/pdf/1589...

Abstract

During the Noachian period impact cratering was the dominant geological process on Early Mars and the contemporary Earth and Moon. Therefore, impact craters are important targets for Mars exploration. Investigation of these craters will advance our understanding of impact processes and their interaction with the water-bearing Martian crust. Impact craters disturbed and heated this water-bearing crust, and likely initiated long-lived hydrothermal systems that may have created (local) clement environments for life and formed secondary minerals. Impact-heat-generated lakes may also have formed. Thus, Noachian impact craters are particularly important exploration targets, providing subsurface access, data on crucial geological processes, and warm, waterrich environments possibly conducive to life. Even if those craters are partially buried by younger geologic deposits, more recent small craters can penetrate those deposits and expose subsurface strata and hydrothermally altered material for study.

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