Distribution and Morphologies of Transverse Aeolian Ridges in ExoMars 2020 Rover Landing Site

Anshuman Bhardwaj*, Lydia Sam, F. Javier Martin-Torres, Maria-Paz Zorzano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Aeolian processes are believed to play a major role in the landscape evolution of Mars. Investigations on Martian aeolian landforms such as ripples, transverse aeolian ridges (TARs), and dunes, and aeolian sediment flux measurements are important to enhance our understanding of past and present wind regimes, the ongoing dust cycle, landscape evolution, and geochemistry. These aeolian bedforms are often comprised of loose sand and sharply undulating topography and thus pose a threat to mobility and maneuvers of Mars rovers. Here we present a first-hand account of the distribution, morphologies, and morphometrics of TARs in Oxia Planum, the recently selected ExoMars 2020 Rover landing site. The gridded mapping was performed for contiguous stretches of TARs within all the landing ellipses using 57 sub-meter high resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) scenes. We also provide the morphological descriptions for all types of TARs present within the landing ellipses. We use HiRISE digital terrain models (DTMs) along with the images to derive morphometric information for TARs in Oxia Planum. In general, the average areal TAR coverage was found to be 5.4% (±4.9% standard deviation), increasing from west to east within the landing ellipses. We report the average TAR morphometrics in the form of crest–ridge width (131.1 ± 106.2 m), down-wind TAR length (17.6 ± 10.1 m), wavelength (37.3 ± 11.6 m), plan view aspect ratio (7.1 ± 2.3), inter-bedform spacing (2.1 ± 1.1), slope (10.6° ± 6.1°), predominant orientations (NE-SW and E-W), and height (1.2 ± 0.8 m). While simple TARs are predominant, we report other TAR morphologies such as forked TAR, wavy TAR with associated smaller secondary ripples, barchan-like TAR, networked TAR, and mini-TARs from the region. Our results can help in planning the rover traverses in terms of both safe passage and scientific returns favoring aeolian research, particularly improving our understanding of TARs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number912
Number of pages17
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number8
Early online date15 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

We thank the efforts of the guest editor and the reviewers for their suggestions in improving the paper. We acknowledge the Wallenberg Foundation and the Kempe Foundation for supporting our Mars research activities in general. We thank Scott Nowicki for providing us the TES-derived rock abundance global dataset for Mars. We thank NASA, JPL, and University of Arizona for providing HiRISE images and DTMs free of charge. The maps in various figures have been created using ArcGIS version 10.6.1 (http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/latest/get-started/setup/arcgis-desktop-quick-start-guide.htm).


  • transverse aeolian ridge (TAR)(TAR)
  • ExoMars 2020
  • Oxia Planum
  • HiRISE
  • mapping


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