Rock size-frequency distributions on Mars and implications for Mars Exploration Rover landing safety and operations

M. P. Golombek, A. F.C. Haldemann, N. K. Forsberg-Taylor, Erin N. Dimaggio, R. D. Schroeder, B. M. Jakosky, M. T. Mello, J. R. Matijevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The cumulative fractional area covered by rocks versus diameter measured at the Pathfinder site was predicted by a rock distribution model that follows simple exponential functions that approach the total measured rock abundance (19%), with a steep decrease in rocks with increasing diameter. The distribution of rocks >1.5 m diameter visible in rare boulder fields also follows this steep decrease with increasing diameter. The effective thermal inertia of rock populations calculated from a simple empirical model of the effective inertia of rocks versus diameter shows that most natural rock populations have cumulative effective thermal inertias of 1700-2100 J m2 S-0.5 K-1 and are consistent with the model rock distributions applied to total rock abundance estimates. The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) airbags have been successfully tested against extreme rock distributions with a higher percentage of potentially hazardous triangular buried rocks than observed at the Pathfinder and Viking landing sites. The probability of the lander impacting a >1 m diameter rock in the first 2 bounces is <3% and <5% for the Meridiani and Gusev landing sites, respectively, and is <0.14% and <0.03% for rocks >1.5 m and >2 m diameter, respectively. Finally, the model rock size-frequency distributiolns indicate that rocks >0.1 m and >0.3 m in diameter, large enough to place contact sensor instruments against and abrade, respectively, should be plentiful within a single sol's drive at the Meridiani and Gusev landing sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Volume108
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 25 2003

Fingerprint

Mars exploration
landing
frequency distribution
Landing
mars
Mars
safety
rocks
Rocks
rock
inertia
landing sites
distribution
Contact sensors
heat
Exponential functions
exponential functions
Polymethyl Methacrylate
boulder

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

Golombek, M. P., Haldemann, A. F. C., Forsberg-Taylor, N. K., Dimaggio, E. N., Schroeder, R. D., Jakosky, B. M., ... Matijevic, J. R. (2003). Rock size-frequency distributions on Mars and implications for Mars Exploration Rover landing safety and operations. Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets, 108(12).
Golombek, M. P. ; Haldemann, A. F.C. ; Forsberg-Taylor, N. K. ; Dimaggio, Erin N. ; Schroeder, R. D. ; Jakosky, B. M. ; Mello, M. T. ; Matijevic, J. R. / Rock size-frequency distributions on Mars and implications for Mars Exploration Rover landing safety and operations. In: Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets. 2003 ; Vol. 108, No. 12.
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abstract = "The cumulative fractional area covered by rocks versus diameter measured at the Pathfinder site was predicted by a rock distribution model that follows simple exponential functions that approach the total measured rock abundance (19{\%}), with a steep decrease in rocks with increasing diameter. The distribution of rocks >1.5 m diameter visible in rare boulder fields also follows this steep decrease with increasing diameter. The effective thermal inertia of rock populations calculated from a simple empirical model of the effective inertia of rocks versus diameter shows that most natural rock populations have cumulative effective thermal inertias of 1700-2100 J m2 S-0.5 K-1 and are consistent with the model rock distributions applied to total rock abundance estimates. The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) airbags have been successfully tested against extreme rock distributions with a higher percentage of potentially hazardous triangular buried rocks than observed at the Pathfinder and Viking landing sites. The probability of the lander impacting a >1 m diameter rock in the first 2 bounces is <3{\%} and <5{\%} for the Meridiani and Gusev landing sites, respectively, and is <0.14{\%} and <0.03{\%} for rocks >1.5 m and >2 m diameter, respectively. Finally, the model rock size-frequency distributiolns indicate that rocks >0.1 m and >0.3 m in diameter, large enough to place contact sensor instruments against and abrade, respectively, should be plentiful within a single sol's drive at the Meridiani and Gusev landing sites.",
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Golombek, MP, Haldemann, AFC, Forsberg-Taylor, NK, Dimaggio, EN, Schroeder, RD, Jakosky, BM, Mello, MT & Matijevic, JR 2003, 'Rock size-frequency distributions on Mars and implications for Mars Exploration Rover landing safety and operations', Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets, vol. 108, no. 12.

Rock size-frequency distributions on Mars and implications for Mars Exploration Rover landing safety and operations. / Golombek, M. P.; Haldemann, A. F.C.; Forsberg-Taylor, N. K.; Dimaggio, Erin N.; Schroeder, R. D.; Jakosky, B. M.; Mello, M. T.; Matijevic, J. R.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets, Vol. 108, No. 12, 25.12.2003.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Rock size-frequency distributions on Mars and implications for Mars Exploration Rover landing safety and operations

AU - Golombek, M. P.

AU - Haldemann, A. F.C.

AU - Forsberg-Taylor, N. K.

AU - Dimaggio, Erin N.

AU - Schroeder, R. D.

AU - Jakosky, B. M.

AU - Mello, M. T.

AU - Matijevic, J. R.

PY - 2003/12/25

Y1 - 2003/12/25

N2 - The cumulative fractional area covered by rocks versus diameter measured at the Pathfinder site was predicted by a rock distribution model that follows simple exponential functions that approach the total measured rock abundance (19%), with a steep decrease in rocks with increasing diameter. The distribution of rocks >1.5 m diameter visible in rare boulder fields also follows this steep decrease with increasing diameter. The effective thermal inertia of rock populations calculated from a simple empirical model of the effective inertia of rocks versus diameter shows that most natural rock populations have cumulative effective thermal inertias of 1700-2100 J m2 S-0.5 K-1 and are consistent with the model rock distributions applied to total rock abundance estimates. The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) airbags have been successfully tested against extreme rock distributions with a higher percentage of potentially hazardous triangular buried rocks than observed at the Pathfinder and Viking landing sites. The probability of the lander impacting a >1 m diameter rock in the first 2 bounces is <3% and <5% for the Meridiani and Gusev landing sites, respectively, and is <0.14% and <0.03% for rocks >1.5 m and >2 m diameter, respectively. Finally, the model rock size-frequency distributiolns indicate that rocks >0.1 m and >0.3 m in diameter, large enough to place contact sensor instruments against and abrade, respectively, should be plentiful within a single sol's drive at the Meridiani and Gusev landing sites.

AB - The cumulative fractional area covered by rocks versus diameter measured at the Pathfinder site was predicted by a rock distribution model that follows simple exponential functions that approach the total measured rock abundance (19%), with a steep decrease in rocks with increasing diameter. The distribution of rocks >1.5 m diameter visible in rare boulder fields also follows this steep decrease with increasing diameter. The effective thermal inertia of rock populations calculated from a simple empirical model of the effective inertia of rocks versus diameter shows that most natural rock populations have cumulative effective thermal inertias of 1700-2100 J m2 S-0.5 K-1 and are consistent with the model rock distributions applied to total rock abundance estimates. The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) airbags have been successfully tested against extreme rock distributions with a higher percentage of potentially hazardous triangular buried rocks than observed at the Pathfinder and Viking landing sites. The probability of the lander impacting a >1 m diameter rock in the first 2 bounces is <3% and <5% for the Meridiani and Gusev landing sites, respectively, and is <0.14% and <0.03% for rocks >1.5 m and >2 m diameter, respectively. Finally, the model rock size-frequency distributiolns indicate that rocks >0.1 m and >0.3 m in diameter, large enough to place contact sensor instruments against and abrade, respectively, should be plentiful within a single sol's drive at the Meridiani and Gusev landing sites.

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