This image shows the landing site for the Mars Pathfinder mission.
Click on image for full size
Image from: NASA/JPL
The Flood Plain explored by Mars Pathfinder
The nature of the flood plain observed by the Rover was unusual compared to a terrestrial flood plain, and suggested that it might not actually be a floodplain. The rocks could have come from ejecta from impacts which created the nearby craters.
Some of the reasons for doubting the flow-origin hypothesis include:
- some of the boulders found by the Rover were larger than those expected to be carried by catastrophic flood waters.
- there was no gravel, as if the gravel were carried away by continued water or wind during the waning phases of the flood
- the remaining rocks were not destroyed by sand
(this may be either because there was not enough sand to do damage, or that sandblasting happens in pulses)
On the other hand, scientists discovered many pebbles
, cobbles and conglomerate-type rocks
. These suggest that the landingsite *was*
formed from outflowing water.
Scientists considered carefully whether the origin of the rocks could be from fluvial processes or from impact processes. Findings from these studies contribute to the overall results of the Pathfinder mission, and help answer some questions.
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