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The importance of (Noachian) impact craters as windows to the subsurface and as potential hosts of 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. H. and Wittmann, A. (2009). The importance of (Noachian) impact craters as windows to the subsurface and as potential hosts of life. LPI.

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Impact craters are important targets for Mars exploration, especially craters of ancient (Noachian) age, which record conditions on Early Mars. They can be used as natural “drill holes” or excavation pits into the subsurface, and so can provide information and samples that would otherwise be inaccessible (e.g., Moore 1977). Impact cratering was the dominant geological process on Early Mars and on the contemporary Earth and Moon (Hartmann and Neukum 2001); investigation of craters will inform our understanding of this geologic process and its effects. Impact craters, early in Mars’ history, disturbed and heated its water-bearing crust, and likely initiated long-lived hydrothermal systems (Newsom 1980, Newsom et al. 2001; Abramov and Kring 2005), which created some clement environments for life (Kring 2000a). Also, impact-heat generated lakes may have formed (Newsom et al. 1996). Thus, Noachian impact craters are important exploration targets, providing subsurface access, data on crucial geological processes, and warm, water-rich environments possibly conducive to life.

Item Type: Other
Copyright Holders: 2009 The Authors
Extra Information: White paper for NASA decadal survey
Keywords: exploration; Mars; impact cratering; life; follow the water
Academic Unit/Department: Science > Environment, Earth and Ecosystems
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
Item ID: 24308
Depositing User: Susanne Schwenzer
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 13:01
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2016 15:10
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