Selection of the landing site in Isidis Planitia of Mars probe Beagle 2

Bridges, J.C.; Seabrook, A.M.; Rothery, D.A.; Kim, J.R.; Pillinger, C.T.; Sims, M.R.; Golombek, M.P.; Duxbury, T.; Head, J.W.; Haldemann, A.F.C.; Mitchell, K.L.; Muller, J.-P.; Lewis, S.R.; Moncrieff, C.; Wright, I.P.; Grady, M.M. and Morley, J.G. (2003). Selection of the landing site in Isidis Planitia of Mars probe Beagle 2. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 108(E1) p. 5001.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2001JE001820

Abstract

This paper describes selection and characterization of the landing site for the Mars 2004 Beagle 2 mission. The site is within Isidis Planitia between 10°–12°N, 266°–274°W, centered at 11.6°N, 269.5°W. This is at low elevation (-3600 to -3900 m MOLA), is flat (MOLA RMS slope = 0.57°), radar data suggest a smoother surface at decimeter to meter scales than the Pathfinder site and it has a moderate rock abundance (2–17%, mean 11%). In addition to this, Isidis shows evidence for concentration and remobilization of volatiles. In particular, the basin contains conical landforms. We favor models involving the formation of tuff cones during magma-ice interaction. Structures identified as dykes in MOC images may be remnants of magma conduits. The pattern of bulk thermal inertia in Isidis (higher values of 500 Jm-2s-0.5K-1 around the SW-S-E margin decreasing toward the center and north) suggests that an influx of sediment spread from the Noachian areas around the southern half of the basin over the basin floor. The coarse, higher thermal inertia material was deposited closest to the sediment source. The variable state of erosion of the tuff cones suggests that they formed intermittently over a long period of time during Amazonian and possibly Hesperian epochs. Geologically recent resurfacing of Isidis has also occurred by aeolian processes, and this is shown by a deficit in impact craters <120 m diameter. The proportion of rocky material is predicted to be slightly less than the Viking and Pathfinder sites, but there will probably be more duricrust.

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