Curious Mars

Mars: April 2017

Brown University researchers have published the most detailed geological history to date for a region of Mars known as Northeast Syrtis Major, a spot high on NASA's list of potential landing sites for its next Mars rover to be launched in 2020.

We consider a dynamical shake-up model to explain the low mass of Mars and the lack of planets in the asteroid belt. In our scenario, a secular resonance with Jupiter sweeps through the inner solar system as the solar nebula depletes, pitting resonant excitation against collisional damping in the Sun's protoplanetary disk.

Understanding the limits on what microbial life can endure is important for preventing contamination of the Red Planet with terrestrial microbes when our human and robotic explorers arrive.