Mars has experienced a complex geological, hydrological and atmospheric history. Oceans were likely once present on its surface, and rivers carved valley networks into its volcanic crust. Prior to 4 billion years ago its atmosphere was likely much thicker, and conditions on its surface may have been conducive for life. Mars is the focus of much planetary exploration with orbiting satellites and surface landers and rovers revealing fascinating landscapes.
In Manchester we study samples of Mars that have been collected here on Earth as martian meteorites, which are found in hot and cold deserts and as meteorite falls. We study these samples in our laboratories using a variety of techniques and to address critical science topics including:
• The Fe-isotope composition of carbonates in martian meteorites using methods to better understand the history of the martian carbon cycle
• The noble gas history of Mars to understand the interaction between the atmosphere, the surface and the planetary interior
• The halogen history of Mars to understand volatile reservoirs and cycles
• The age of lava flows and impact events on Mars to constrain its geological evolution
We also study images of the martian surface to help develop advanced computer vision pattern recognition programmes. This work is done in collaboration with the Image Analysis group in the School of Medicine.
• Cartwright J.A., Gilmour J.D. and Burgess R. Martian fluid and martian weathering signatures identified in Nakhla, NWA 998 and MIL 03346 by halogen and noble gas analysis. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta. 2013; 105: 255-293
• Cartwright J, Ocker K, Crowther S, Burgess R, Gilmour J. Terrestrial and Martian weathering signatures of xenon components in shergottite mineral separates. Meteoritics and Planetary Science. 2010 August; 45(8): 1359-1379
• Gilmour, J. D., Whitby, J. A., Turner, G. Disentangling xenon components in Nakhla: Martian atmosphere, spallation and Martian interior. Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta. 2001; 65: 343-354.
• Ocker, K. D., Gilmour, J. D. Martian xenon components in Shergotty mineral separates: Locations, sources, and trapping mechanisms. Meteoritics & Planetary Science. 2004; 39: 1967-198
• Tar P.D., Thacker N.A., Jones M.A. and Gilmour J.D.. 2012. A Quantitative Approach to the Analysis of Planetary Terrains.