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I know a way to find out. We find a convenient lump of rock in the neighbourhood - perhaps chip off a chunk of Phobos, the whole thing might be a bit excessive - and deorbit it while taking notes. Probably get some money from the DoD's petty cash fund to offset expenses.

Oliver Morton

You hit on a hobby horse. I keep meaning to write an article or even a paper on how a controlled asteroid impact on Mars could be the first great astrobiological/planetary engineering experiment. We'd understand impacts a lot bettter, I suspect, if we could watch a few -- and the hot wet transient environment in a fresh impact crater would be a perfect place to look for life. If you believe it's worth learning to deflect the orbits of asteroids anyway, as a sensible precaution for the inevitable (though probably far off) time when we find one headed for the earth, then deflecting one or two to hit Mars offers a trial run with lots of added benefits. It's really not as Strangelovely as it sounds...

Lori Fenton

On the "lake": Yep, it's a dune field. Oded was right. It's hard to tell that it is a dune field, because the dunes are not well defined. I've found that dunes near the south pole tend to look somewhat rounded, which may mean that they are inactive and somewhat eroded.

Many craters in this region have dark dune fields on their floors. The sand probably got blown in from the surrounding plains, but then it got stuck in the craters by topographically-enhanced winds.

If you look carefully, you can see that there are hundreds of thin filamentary streaks that run generally northwest-southeast. They are parallel to the large dark streak coming off the dune field that heads up the northwest crater rim. The thin streaks are thought to be dust devil tracks, where bright dust is scoured away by dust devils are they are slowly blown downwind. The dark streak coming off the dune field is probably dark sand being blown off the dunes themselves. It's likely that the same wind (blowing during the same time of day and the same season) made both types of features, since they are oriented in the same direction.

Hope this helps.

Neil Saunders

It is a fascinating image. I think the initial reaction is due in part to image scaling; if you zoom to 100% you begin to see features that make the "lake" appear much less black and flat.
Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert in either image processing or planetary photogeology. However, I do enjoy messing with images using The Gimp. I played around with this image by cropping to the "lake" area, then enhancing the contrast and levels. You can see the result at http://psychro.bioinformatics.unsw.edu.au/neil/tmp/mars/. It seems to me that the "lake" is actually raised, with little ridge features around the edges and I'd agree with others that the image is consistent with wind moving in a SE-NW direction.
I think it's great that those kids are involved and that this stuff is out on the net for anyone to play with.

Zac W

I was actually in the group that took the image. I am from Saratoga Springs in New York. There actually is an infared image taken of this crater and you can find it at http://themis.asu.edu . THanks for everyones comments

Ken Edgett

It really IS a lake. Hydrocarbon lake.
Just kidding. The south high latitudes have lots of intracrater dune fields that have been indurated and then planed-off by the wind to almost flat forms. The "lake" in that initial gully crater in AB1-07707 also turns out to be dune material.


Little Miss keeps asking me to make her a cacholote cake to take to parties (the one I have in the freezer right now is a yellow one). I'm SOOOO saving this one to make for her (dairy free!) next time. And no dishes... my husband will be thrilled!


Professor Falls is a 280 metre WI-4 ice climb near the Banff end of Mount Rundle. I have not done this climb. It is one of many ice climbs in that area which are cersteuld together. The access distance to Professor is listed at about 3 KM. Most of my time on Mount Rundle has been on the other side hiking to the summit and once into the Central Gully. It is a landmark mountain looming above Banff Townsite. Apparently there is a trailhead at an old parking area for the Banff Springs Hotel that accesses a trail between Banff and the Nordic Ski Centre near Canmore. I have not hiked this trail but I will check it out. It may noy be this year although a fair weather day and dry conditions could change my mind. My curiousity is aroused. I have hiked and biked the length of Rundle on the other side but I have not spent much time on the highway side. Professor Falls is defined as a permanent water source. It may be your falls but it is a long way from Canmore. If I get there I will let you know how it turns out and also if there are any remaining signs of an old quarry.

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