Sunday, January 08, 2006

Rock Star

I was asked for my autograph recently, by a collector who has an old USGS Viking map and is getting it signed by prominent Mars scientists. When asked, I had to demur – I’m certainly not in the league of Bruce Murray, Steve Squyres, and Ray Bradbury! But this great guy thought that maybe someday, I would be :) I got to choose my favorite spot on Mars, and I chose Argyre Basin. Argyre is one of the best-preserved large impact basins on Mars. It’s more than 1000 km across, stratigraphically old, and has a beautiful mountain ring around it that is presumably the remnants of its ejecta. Most of the work I’ve done in my career is related to trying to reveal the history of bombardment in our solar system in its early years, and when my attention turns to Mars, that’s what I wonder about. We don’t have any plans at present to visit Argyre, but it’ll be a fantastic location someday to learn about Martian cratering history, large basin formation, and other things like the past Martian geotherm and possibly the climate record in the infilling sediments.

(With apologies to Sir Mix-a-Lot and to you, dear reader)

I like Big Basins and I cannot lie
You scientists can’t deny
That when a crater formed 4 billion years ago
And that’s where the spacecraft goes
You’ll get sprung! Wanna land your stuff
Cause you’ll notice that basin’s stuffed
With climate records in the sediments
And ejecta in the pediments
Ooh ring of mountains
Of knowledge it’s a fountain
Push that record later, later
Cause this ain’t no average crater

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