Aeolis Mons

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Aeolis Mons
673885main PIA15986-full full.jpg
The rover Curiosity landed on August 6, 2012 near the base of Aeolis Mons (or "Mount Sharp").
Location Gale crater on Mars
Coordinates 5°05′S 137°51′E / 5.08°S 137.85°E / -5.08; 137.85Coordinates: 5°05′S 137°51′E / 5.08°S 137.85°E / -5.08; 137.85
Peak Aeolis Mons - 5.5 km (18,000 ft) high[1]
Discoverer NASA in the 1970s
Eponym Aeolis Mons - Aeolis albedo feature
Mount Sharp - Robert P. Sharp (1911-2004)
Gale crater mound - Gale crater

Aeolis Mons (IPA: [ˈiːəlɨs ˈmɒnz]), also unofficially known as Mount Sharp, is a mountain on Mars. It forms the central peak within Gale crater and is located around 5°05′S 137°51′E / 5.08°S 137.85°E / -5.08; 137.85, rising 5.5 km (18,000 ft) high from the valley floor. It is feature ID 15000.[2]

Curiosity (the Mars Science Laboratory rover) landed in "Yellowknife" Quad 51[3][4][5][6] of Aeolis Palus,[7] next to the mountain, on August 6, 2012. NASA named the landing site Bradbury Landing on August 22, 2012.[8] Aeolis Mons is a primary goal for scientific study.[9] On June 5, 2013, NASA announced that Curiosity will soon begin a 8 km (5.0 mi) journey from the Glenelg area to the base of Aeolis Mons. On November 13, 2013, NASA announced that an entryway Curiosity will traverse on its way to Aeolis Mons will be named "Murray Buttes", in honor of planetary scientist Bruce C. Murray (1931-2013).[10] The trip was expected to take about a year and would include stops along the way to study the local terrain.[11][12][13]

On September 11, 2014, NASA announced that the Curiosity rover had reached Aeolis Mons, the rover mission's long-term prime destination.[14][15]

Formation[edit]

The mountain appears to be an enormous mound of eroded sedimentary layers sitting on the central peak of Gale. It rises 5.5 km (18,000 ft) above the northern crater floor and 4.5 km (15,000 ft) above the southern crater floor, higher than the southern crater rim. The sediments may have been laid down over an interval of 2 billion years,[16] and may have once completely filled the crater. Some of the lower sediment layers may have originally been deposited on a lake bed,[16] while observations of possibly cross-bedded strata in the upper mound suggest aeolian processes.[17] However, this issue is debated,[18][19] and the origin of the lower layers remains unclear.[17] If katabatic wind deposition played the predominant role in the emplacement of the sediments, as suggested by reported 3 degree radial slopes of the mound's layers, erosion would have come into play largely to place an upper limit on the mound's growth.[20][21]

Understanding size[edit]

Mons Hadley, on the Moon, is 4.5 km (15,000 ft) high.[22]
Mountain km high
Aeolis 5.5
Huygens 5.5
Denali 5.5 (btp)
Blanc 4.8 (asl)
Uhuru 4.6 (btp)
Fuji 3.8 (asl)
Zugspitze 3

Aeolis Mons is 5.5 km (18,000 ft) high, about the same height as Mons Huygens, the tallest lunar mountain, and taller than Mons Hadley visited by Apollo 15.

Mount Everest rises to 8.8 km (29,000 ft) altitude above sea level but is only 4.6 km (15,000 ft) (base-to-peak).[23] Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro is about 5.9 km (19,000 ft) altitude above sea level to the Uhuru peak;[24] also 4.6 km base-to-peak.[25] America's Mt. McKinley, also known as Denali, has a base-to-peak of 5.5 km (18,000 ft).[26] The Franco-Italian Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco is 4.8 km (16,000 ft) in altitude above sea level,[27][28] Mount Fuji (富士山), which overlooks Tokyo, Japan is about 3.8 km (12,000 ft) altitude. Compared to the Andes, Aeolis Mons would rank outside the hundred tallest peaks, being roughly the same height as Argentina's Cerro Pajonal; the peak is higher than any above sea level in Oceania above sea level, but base-to peak it is considerably shorter than Hawaii's Mauna Kea and its neighbors.

Name[edit]

Discovered in the 1970s, the mountain remained nameless for perhaps 40 years. When it became a likely landing site, it was given various labels; for example, in 2010 a NASA photo caption called it "Gale crater mound".[29] In March 2012, NASA unofficially named it "Mount Sharp", for American geologist Robert P. Sharp.[1][30]

Comparison of Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons) to the sizes of three large mountains on Earth.

The International Astronomical Union, which is responsible for planetary nomenclature for its participants, names large Martian mountains after the Classical albedo feature in which it is located, not for people. In May 2012 the IAU thus named the mountain Aeolis Mons, and gave the name Aeolis Palus to the crater floor plain between the northern wall of Gale and the northern foothills of the mountain.[1][31][32][33] In recognition of NASA and in honour of Sharp, the IAU gave the name "Robert Sharp" to a large crater (150 km (93 mi) in diameter), located about 260 km (160 mi) west of Gale, following its standard practice of naming large craters after scientists.

NASA and the ESA[34] continue to refer to the mountain as "Mount Sharp" in press conferences and press releases. This is similar to other informal names, such as the Columbia Hills near one of the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites. Sky & Telescope explained the rationales of the two names to their readers in August 2012, and held an informal poll to newsletter readers. Over 2700 voted and picked Aeolis Mons over Mount Sharp by 57% to 43%.[30] The official name, "Aeolis Mons", is recorded by the United States Geological Survey.[32]

Aeolis is the ancient name of the Izmir region in western Turkey.

Curiosity at Mount Sharp[edit]

On September 11, 2014 (Sol 746), the Curiosity rover reached the slopes of Aeolis Mons (or Mount Sharp), the rover mission's long-term prime destination[14][15] and where the rover is expected to learn more about the history of Mars.[35] Curiosity had traveled an estimated linear distance of 6.9 km (4.3 mi)[36] to the mountain slopes since leaving its "start" point in Yellowknife Bay on July 4, 2013.[36]

Geology map - from the crater floor in Aeolis Palus up the Slopes of Mount Sharp (September 11,2014).
Rocks near the "Pahrump Hills" on the slopes of Mount Sharp as viewed from the Curiosity Rover (September 11, 2014; white balanced).

Images[edit]

Curiosity's view of "Mount Sharp" (September 20, 2012; white balanced) (raw color).
Curiosity's view of the "Rocknest" area - South is center/North at both ends; "Mount Sharp" at SE horizon (somewhat left-of-center); "Glenelg" at East (left-of-center); rover tracks at West (right-of-center) (November 16, 2012; white balanced) (raw color) (interactives).
Curiosity's view of "Amargosa Valley" on the slopes of "Mount Sharp" (September 11, 2014).
Curiosity's view of Mars sky at sunset (February 2013; sun simulated by artist).


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c ""Mount Sharp" on Mars Compared to Three Big Mountains on Earth". NASA. March 27 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  2. ^ Aeolis Mons
  3. ^ NASA Staff (August 10, 2012). "Curiosity's Quad - IMAGE". NASA. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ Agle, DC; Webster, Guy; Brown, Dwayne (August 9, 2012). "NASA's Curiosity Beams Back a Color 360 of Gale Crate". NASA. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ Amos, Jonathan (August 9, 2012). "Mars rover makes first colour panorama". BBC News. Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ Halvorson, Todd (August 9, 2012). "Quad 51: Name of Mars base evokes rich parallels on Earth". USA Today. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  7. ^ NASA Staff (August 6, 2012). "NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain". NASA. Retrieved August 6, 2012. 
  8. ^ Brown, Dwayne; Cole, Steve; Webster, Guy; Agle, D.C. (August 22, 2012). "NASA Mars Rover Begins Driving at Bradbury Landing". NASA. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  9. ^ NASA Staff (August 6, 2012). "NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain". NASA/JPL. Retrieved August 7 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Webster, Guy; Brown, Dwayne (November 13, 2013). "Mars Rover Teams Dub Sites In Memory of Bruce Murray". NASA. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  11. ^ Staff (June 5, 2013). "From 'Glenelg' to Mount Sharp". NASA. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ Chang, Alicia (June 5, 2013). "Curiosity rover to head toward Mars mountain soon". AP News. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  13. ^ Chang, Kenneth (June 7, 2013). "Martian Rock Another Clue to a Once Water-Rich Planet". New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Webster, Guy; Agle, DC; Brown, Dwayne (September 11, 2014). "NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Arrives at Martian Mountain". NASA. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Chang, Kenneth (September 11, 2014). "After a Two-Year Trek, NASA’s Mars Rover Reaches Its Mountain Lab". New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Gale Crater's History Book". Mars Odyssey THEMIS web site. Arizona State University. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Anderson, R. B.; Bell III, J. F. (2010). "Geologic mapping and characterization of Gale Crater and implications for its potential as a Mars Science Laboratory landing site". International Journal of Mars Science and Exploration 5: 76–128. Bibcode:2010IJMSE...5...76A. doi:10.1555/mars.2010.0004. 
  18. ^ Cabrol, N. A.; et al. (1999). "Hydrogeologic evolution of Gale Crater and its relevance in the exobiological exploration of Mars". Icarus 139 (2): 235–245. Bibcode:1999Icar..139..235C. doi:10.1006/icar.1999.6099. 
  19. ^ Irwin, R. P.; Howard, A. D.; Craddock, R. A.; Moore, J. M. (2005). "An intense terminal epoch of widespread fluvial activity on early Mars: 2. Increased runoff and paleolake development". Journal of Geophysical Research 110: E12S15. Bibcode:2005JGRE..11012S15I. doi:10.1029/2005JE002460. 
  20. ^ Wall, M. (May 6, 2013). "Bizarre Mars Mountain Possibly Built by Wind, Not Water". Space.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  21. ^ Kite, E. S.; Lewis, K. W.; Lamb, M. P.; Newman, C. E.; Richardson, M. I. (2013). "Growth and form of the mound in Gale Crater, Mars: Slope wind enhanced erosion and transport". Geology 41 (5): 543–546. doi:10.1130/G33909.1. ISSN 0091-7613. 
  22. ^ Fred W. Price (1988). The Moon observer's handbook. London: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33500-0. 
  23. ^ Mount Everest (1:50,000 scale map), prepared under the direction of Bradford Washburn for the Boston Museum of Science, the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, and the National Geographic Society, 1991, ISBN 3-85515-105-9
  24. ^ "Kilimajaro Guide—Kilimanjaro 2010 Precise Height Measurement Expedition". Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  25. ^ S. Green - Kilimanjaro: Highest Mountain in Africa - About.com
  26. ^ Adam Helman, 2005. The Finest Peaks : Prominence and Other Mountain Measures, p. 9: "the base to peak rise of Mount McKinley is the largest of any mountain that lies entirely above sea level, some 18000 feet"
  27. ^ Sumitpostorg - Zugspitze
  28. ^ "Mont Blanc shrinks by 45cm in two years". Sydney Morning Herald. November 6, 2009. 
  29. ^ NASA - Layers in Lower Formation of Gale Crater Mound
  30. ^ a b "Mount Sharp or Aeolis Mons?". Sky & Telescope. August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2012. 
  31. ^ Space.com staff (March 29, 2012). "NASA's New Mars Rover Will Explore Towering "Mount Sharp"". Space.com. Retrieved March 30, 2012. 
  32. ^ a b Blue, J. (May 16, 2012). "Three New Names Approved for Features on Mars". US Geological Survey. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  33. ^ Agle, D. C. (March 28, 2012). "'Mount Sharp' On Mars Links Geology's Past and Future". NASA. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  34. ^ ESA - Mars Express marks the spot for Curiosity landing
  35. ^ Webster, Guy (August 6, 2013). "Mars Curiosity Landing: Relive the Excitement". NASA. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  36. ^ a b Staff (August 27, 2013). "PIA17355: Curiosity's Progress on Route from 'Glenelg' to Mount Sharp". NASA. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  37. ^ Mars Science Laboratory: Multimedia-Images

Further reading[edit]

  • Jürgen Blunck - Mars and its Satellites, A Detailed Commentary on the Nomenclature, 2nd edition. 1982.

External links[edit]