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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
This image shows the rock Yogi and tracks from the Rover.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

Weathering processes on Mars

There are two main weathering agents on Mars: wind and acid fog. Although acid fog can be very important, because large amounts of water are not readily accessible from the Martian surface, the action of sand and wind is the main agent of weathering on Mars.

Wind erosion of Mars was examined in the Mars Pathfinder mission. Rocks examined by the Pathfinder's Rover found evidence of the following erosion features:

A wind tail, or drift deposit is shown in lee of the rock dubbed "Yogi" in the picture to the left.

Sand and dust from the surface is whipped up by the winds of Mars and distributed around the globe in global dust storms. The force of winds during these storms pounds sand into the rock formations, contributing toward the breakdown and recycling of the Martian surface.

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Martian Sand

Fluvial environments (water) are the origin of sand grains on Earth, but what of Mars? Sand grains of Mars come from basalt. They seem to be particles which are cemented together, rather than rounded crystalline...more

An Overview of the Mars Pathfinder Mission

The Mars Pathfinder (MPF) mission was sent to investigate the geology of Mars. Its principal objective was to analyze the rocks and soil of Mars. The MPF consisted of 2 components, a lander and a mobile...more

Ventifacts in rocks of Mars

This image shows pits and holes (ventifacts) in a small rock found by the Mars Pathfinder Rover. These ventifacts are artifacts of weathering on Mars and were created by wind erosion. The Souffle rock...more

Results from Mars Pathfinder

These are the findings of Mars Pathfinder. High Silica Rocks - a result from chemical analysis of the Martian rocks. suggestive of differentiated (evolved) rocks and minerals. helps establish that, like...more

Classes of Martian Rock

The rocks explored by the Mars Pathfinder's Rover have been classified into three kinds by scientists analysing the Rovers' findings. Potentially the rocks may all be the same kind of rock, all having...more

Rock weathering on Mars

The rocks explored by the Mars Pathfinder's Rover are classified into two groups according to how they weather. Differing weathering properties may indicate differing conditions of deposition because impact...more

Soils explored by the Rover

One of the measurement objectives of the Mars Pathfinder mission was the examination of the composition and structure of the soil. As the Rover traversed the surface exploring the rocks of Mars, it also...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA