Observation of the geology and geomorphology of the 1999 Marsokhod test site

R. A. De Hon, N. G. Barlow, M. K. Reagan, E. A. Bettis, C. T. Foster, V. C. Gulick, L. S. Crumpler, J. C. Aubele, M. G. Chapman, K. L. Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Marsokhod rover returned data from six stations that were used to decipher the geomorphology and geology of a region not previously visited by members of the geomorphology field team. Satellite images and simulated descent images provided information about the regional setting. The landing zone was on an alluvial apron flanking a mountain block to the west and a playa surface to the east. Rover color images, infrared spectra analysis of the mountains, and the apron surface provided insight into the rock composition of the nearby mountains. From the return data the geomorphology team interpreted the region to consist of compressionally deformed, ancient marine sediments and igneous rocks exposed by more recent extensional tectonics. Unconsolidated alluvial materials blanket the lower flanks of the mountains. An ancient shoreline cut into alluvial material marks a high stand of water during a past, wetter climate period. Playa sediments floor a present-day, seasonally, dry lake. Observations made by the rover using panoramic and close-up (hand specimens-scale) image data and color scene data confirmed the presence of boulders, cobbles, and fines of various provinces. Rover traverses to sites identified as geologically distinct, such as fan, channel, shoreline, and playa, provided useful clues to the geologic interpretations. Analysis of local rocks was given context only through comparison with distant geologic features. These results demonstrated the importance of a multifaceted approach to site interpretation through comparison of interpretations derived by differing geologic techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JE001167
Pages (from-to)7665-7682
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE4
StatePublished - Apr 25 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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