Mars Research

Dawn Y. Sumner
Geology, University of California, Davis

Mars Science Laboratory

I am co-I on the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory rover scientific cameras in association with Malin Space Science Systems. (See also Malin et al., 2005. The Mast Cameras and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory. 36th Annual Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference, Abstract (pdf file).) This rover will evaluate habitability at a site on Mars. I've been involved in deciding on camera characteristics and leading field trips to analog sites for the MSSS team. In addition, I am on the landing site steering committee and have given a couple of presentation at landing site workshops (see the 2nd and 3rd Workshops; I presented the Edgett talk on Gale Crater in the 3rd Workshop.) I am also involved in training and software tests to prepare for running the mission.

White Sands National Monument - Mars Analog Site

Greg Chavdarian proposed to compare sand dunes at White Sands National Monument with structures observed at Opportunity's landing site for his senior thesis (220 KB pdf text and 14 MB pdf of figures). He documented contractional features (photo below) and fins that show similarities to structures observed by Opportunity. This work led to a paper in Geology. Greg just finished an M.S. thesis studying cracking processes and water exchange between White Sands sand and the atmosphere. We will be submitting this work for publication soon.

Preservation of Organics on Mars

I also wrote a paper describing why I think it is unlikely that organic compounds would be present in sediments like those characterized by the rover Opportunity at Meridiani Planum. Basically, the abundance of oxidized iron is not compatible with good organic carbon preservation given water and time. See: Sumner, Dawn Y., 2004. Poor preservational potential of organics in Meridiani Planum hematite-bearing sedimentary rocks, Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets, v. 109, E12007, doi:10.1029/2004JE002321. Abstract (at JGR web site) and an almost final full version (at the UC eScholarship Repository).

Related Publications:

MEPAG Next Decade Science Analysis Group, 2008.
Science priorities for Mars sample return. Astrobiology, v. 8, p. 489-535. Appendices available at: MEPAG web site. (Sumner was a member of the Next Decade Science Analysis Group.)

Chavdarian*, Gregory V., and Dawn Y. Sumner, 2006. Abstract
Cracks and fins in sulfate sand: Evidence for recent mineral-atmospheric water cycling in Meridiani Planum outcrops? Geology, v. 34, p. 229-232.

Taylor, G. Jeffrey, Dawn Sumner, Andy Steele, Steve Bougher, Mark Richardson, Dave Paige, Glenn MacPherson, Bruce Banerdt, John Connolly, and Kelly Snook, 2004.
Scientific Goals, Objectives, Investigations, and Priorities: 2004. MEPAG (Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group), MEPAG web site.

Sumner, Dawn Y., 2004. Abstract (JGR) and almost final Full Text (eScholarship Repository)
Poor preservational potential of organics in Meridiani Planum hematite-bearing sedimentary rocks, Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets, v. 109, E12007, doi:10.1029/2004JE002321.

MacPherson, Glenn J. (Chair), and the MSR Science Steering Group, 2002. White Paper
Groundbreaking MSR: Science requirements and cost estimates for a first Mars surface sample return mission. Unpublished white paper, MEPAG web site.

Abstracts:

Chavdarian*, Gregory V., and Dawn Y. Sumner, 2008.
Crack geometry and morphology in hydrous sulfate sands. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIX, Abstract #2285.

Chavdarian*, Gregory V., and Dawn Y. Sumner, 2007.
Cracks as evidence for water evaporation and condensation associated with temperature changes in hydrous sulfate sands. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVIII, Abstract #2246.

Minitti, Michelle E., Kenneth Edgett, and the MSL Mastcam/MAHLI/MARDI Team, 2007.
The Mars Science Laboratory Mars Hand Lens IMager (MSL MAHLI). Geological Society of America, Abstract. http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2007AM/finalprogram/abstract_132356.htm

Sumner, Dawn Y., 2007. Abstract
Differential dissolution and recrystallization: Microscale clues to percursor mineral solubility. Geological Society of America, Abstract (invited).

Chavdarian*, Gregory V., and Dawn Y. Sumner, 2006.
Cracks and fins in sulfate sand: Evidence for recent mineral-atmospheric water cycling in Meridiani Planum outcrops? Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVII and Water on Mars Workshop, NASA Ames.

Chavdarian*, Gregory V. and Dawn Y. Sumner, 2005. Abstract at GSA web site
Cracks and Fins: Pieces of Mars at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, GSA Annual Meeting, Abstract 249-14.

Malin, M.C. and 15 others, including D.Y. Sumner, 2005. Abstract (pdf file)
The mast cameras and Mars decent imager (MARDI) for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVI, Abstract 1214. search for Sumner to download official abstract.


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Dawn Y. Sumner
Department of Geology
University of California
Davis, CA 95616
dysumner@ucdavis.edu