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2011 Research Report
Morphology and Texture of Rock Outcrops and Clasts
The morphologic and textural characteristics of exposed outcrop and loose surface particles (clasts) provide a record of active sorting and abrasive processes. On Earth, morphological characteristics such as shape, texture, fabric and roundness are commonly used to help determine important aspects of a particle’s origin and abrasion history (transport, deposition and wear), even in locations where the source outcrop is not immediately obvious. Because they can be assessed qualitatively and quantitatively to a high degree of accuracy, morphologic characteristics have the potential to give meaning to physical characteristics. (Note below, where the roundness of particles increases with transport distance). Texture reveals the often more subtle effects of secondary or low-energy processes.
For the past seven years I have assessed and analyzed macro- and microscale characteristics of loose particles at the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Spirit landing site using the Spirit MI, to categorize and better understand the surface processes responsible for their emplacement, transport and wear. In the last year I have cut back on my MER activities to focus on my new position as Deputy PI on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). In this role, I am responsible for assisting PI Ken Edgett in overseeing all aspects of MAHLI camera development, testing and operations on Earth and on Mars. MSL launched successfully in November 2011 and is due to land on Mars August 5, 2012, where its significantly improved capabilities over the MER MI (>12µm/pxl spatial resolution, self-illumination including color and UV, higher mobility and variable focus) will provide the highest-quality data yet for these microscale clast morphology studies.
Mapping of small, rocky bodies
Creating a coherent, end-to-end understanding of a particular geologic process hinges upon the utilization and effective blending of a variety of methods of data collection and analysis. The characteristics of a planet's geologic deposits, as manifested on the surface, provide clues to its evolution. In this context, my research focuses on geologic mapping as a tool to organize and contextualize a global or regional understanding of the timing and extent of geologic processes. My approach combines "traditional" photogeologic mapping techniques and multispectral data analysis to characterize geologic units. Most recently, my work includes geologic mapping of Lunar Quadrangle (LQ) 29 (as PI), and LQ10, under Dr. Tracy Gregg.
I am also a Participating Scientist on the Dawn at Vesta mission, where my goal has been to create an iterative map of the surface that evolves as it is informed by data from subsequent orbits. I continue my efforts to produce sequentially better global maps of Vesta, utilizing morphologic (Framing Camera) data refined and informed by VIR (Visible and InfraRed) data. As of the end of 2011, the most current map was being produced using High-Altitude Mapping Orbit (HAMO) data, for publication at LPSC 2012. I also work on subsets of the Vesta globe, through the team’s quadrangle mapping schema; I currently head one quadrangle, with my Co-Investigator Scott Mest heading another. One of the more important efforts in this is to work very closely with team members from all three instruments, to ensure that the map represents geologic units as informed by morphology, mineralogy and elemental composition.
Semi-autonomous Rover Operational Strategies
Robotic semi-autonomous roving vehicles are designed to perform many of the functions of a field geologist. The robotic exploration of planetary field sites is an outgrowth of field methods on Earth, where in any field situation geologists must determine how best to adapt general field methods to the environment and science questions at hand. Scientists are tasked with developing the appropriate field techniques to utilize these instruments to answer the science questions posed.
The methodology used in remote, rover-driven field studies is derived from terrestrial field methods — that is, operational strategy, or the manner and sequence in which instruments are used to answer scientific questions. However, that methodology must be adjusted for the unique problems associated with conducting work remotely, and for the abilities of the rovers in their specific environments.
I am conducting field tests of lunar analog sites using MER rover-inspiredfieldmethodologies, to (1) test how well strategies learned on Mars by the MERs optimize science return from lunar rover missions; and (2) identify changes that will need to be made for the unique differences introduced by the lunar architecture. In 2011, this work included field tests at Gulkana and Matanuska glaciers in Alaska, and participation by invitation in the NASA Desert-RATS field test (science backroom located at Mission Control in Houston, TX). I also submitted a successful MMAMA proposal to participate in a similar robotic-focus field test in Hawai’i in 2012.
Yingst, R.A., Cohen, B.A., Ming, D.W., and Eppler, D.B. (2011), Comparing Apollo and Mars Exploration Rover (MER)/Phoenix operations paradigms for human exploration during NASA Desert-RATS science Operations, Acta Astronautica, doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2011.10.001.
Yingst, R.A., Schmidt, M.E., Lentz, R.C.F., Janzen, J.L., and Kuhlman, K.R. (2011), A Mars-oriented image database of hand lens–scale features and textures: The 1996 Skeiðarársandur jökulhlaup example, in Garry, W.B., and Bleacher, J.E., eds., Analogs for Planetary Exploration: Geological Society of America Special Paper 483, p. 301–315, doi:10.1130/2011.2483(20).
Jaumann, R., C.M. R. Jaumann, C. M. Pieters, G. Neukum, S. Mottola, M. C. DeSanctis, C. T. Russell, C. A. Raymond, H. Y. McSween, T. Roatsch, A. Nathues, F. Preusker, F. Scholten, D. Blewett, D. L. Buczkowski, H. Hiesinger, T. McCord, M. Rayman, P. Schenk, K. Stephan, D. Turrini, R. A. Yingst, Dawn Science Team, Geoscientific mapping of Vesta by the Dawn Mission, Lunar Planet Sci. Conf., 42nd, Abs. #1213.
Mest, S.C., J.E. Bleacher, N.E. Petro, and R.A. Yingst (2011), Scientific characterization of lunar regions of interest, Lunar Planet Sci. Conf., 42nd, Abs. #2508.
Lough, T, T.K.P. Gregg, and R.A. Yingst, Assessment of geologic mapping techniques at Aristarchus Plateau, the Moon, Lunar Planet Sci. Conf., 42nd, Abs. #2013.
Herkenhoff, K.E., J.W. Ashley, N.A. Cabrol, R.A. Yingst, R.E. Arvidson, and the Athena Science Team (2011), Recent Athena Microscopic Imager results, Lunar Planet Sci. Conf., 42nd, Abs. #2282.
Yingst, R.A., B.A. Cohen, D.W. Ming and D.B. Eppler (2010), Comparing Apollo and Mars Exploration Rover (MER) operations paradigms for human exploration during NASA Desert-RATS science operations (2011), Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf., 42nd, Abs. #1891.
Yingst, R.A., D.A. Williams, W.B. Garry, R. Jaumann, C.M. Pieters, P.M. Schenk, D.L. Buczkowski, S. Mest, T. Roatsch, and C.T. Russell (2011), Geologic mapping of the south polar feature of Vesta, GSA Abstracts & Programs, 41, Abs. #239-2.
Buczkowski, D.L., E.G. Kahn, O.S. Barnouin, and R.A. Yingst (2011), Large-scale structural features on 4Vesta, GSA Abstracts & Programs, 41, Abs. #239-12.
Mottola, S., R. Jaumann, R.A. Yingst, C.M. Pieters, D.A. Williams, D.L. Buczkowski, P.M. Schenk, C.A. Raymond, G. Neukum, and H.Y. McSween (2011), First results of Dawn’s investigation of the geomorphology of Vesta, GSA Abstracts & Programs, 41, Abs. #239-11.
Jaumann, R., C.M. Pieters, C.T. Russell, C.A. Raymond, R.A. Yingst, D.A. Williams, P. Schenk, G. Neukum, S. Mottola, D. Buczkowski, D.P. O’Brien, W.B. Garry, D.T. Blewett, B.W. Denevi, T. Roatsch, F. Preusker, A. Nathues, H. Sierks, M.V. Sykes, M.C. De Sanctis, H.W., McSween, H.U. keller, S. Marchi, Mapping Vesta: A geological overview (2011), AGU, U21B-02.
Schenk, P., R. Jaumann, C.M. Pieters, G. Neukum, N. Schmedemann, R.A. Yingst, D.A. Williams, W.B. Garry, D. Buczkowski, T.B. McCord, M.V. Sykes, D.P. O’Brien, D.T. Blewett, S. Asman, A. Ermakov, R.W. Gaskell, C.A. Raymond, C. Polanskey, S. Marchi, S. Mottola, T.H. Prettyman, T. Roatsch, F. Preusker, A. Nathues, C. De Sanctis, H.Y. McSween, and C.T. Russell (2011), The south polar structure on Vesta from Dawn: Using geologic, topographic and compositional mapping and planetary analogs to test origin models, AGU, U21B-03.
Buczkowski, D., E. Kahn, O.S. Barnouin, D.Y. Wyrick, R.W. Gaskell, R.A. Yingst, D.A. Williams, W.B. Garry, L. Le Corre, A. Nathues, J.E. Scully, D.T. Blewett, H. Hiesinger, P. Schenk, S.C. Mest, N. Schmedemann, K. Krohn, R. Jaumann, C.A. Raymond, T. Roatsch, F. Preusker, V. Reddy, B.W. Denevi, G. Filacchione, C.M. Pieters, and C.T. Russell (2011), Structural features on 4Vesta: Observations and analysis, AGU, U21B-05.
Yingst, R.A., D.A. Williams, W.B. Garry, S.C. Mest, N.E. Petro, D. Buczkowski, P. Schenk, R. Jaumann, C.M. Pieters, T. Roatsch, F. Preusker, A. Nathues, L. Le Corre, V. Reddy, C.T. Russell, C.A. Raymond, M.C. De Sanctis, E. Ammannito, and G. Filacchione (2011), A preliminary global geologic map of Vesta based on Dawn Survey orbit data, AGU, P43B-0248.
15 abstracts on mapping of 15 quadrangles of Vesta (2011), AGU.
• Several awards as member of the Athena Science Team.
• NASA Group Achievement Award (2011), Desert RATS team