Origin and evolution of the outflow channels on Mars using HRSC 3-D imaging

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Civil Environmental and Geomatic Eng


Giant erosional valleys on the surface of Mars, termed outflow channels, are testament to massive amounts of erosion of the Martian crust. These valleys are widely believed to have been carved by the catastrophic release of groundwater, which initiated cataclysmic floods that caused large-scale erosion. The morphology of these valleys can be used to infer constraints on the depth of floodwaters, water flow velocities and discharges. However, deriving these values requires detailed topographic data. We aim to map the morphology of the outflow channels using stereo camera (HRSC) Mars Express imagery and derived 3D information. We will look for evidence of flood stage indicators in the Martian landscape, so that we can accurately determine the heights that flood event/s attained. To do this we will use photointerpretation and geological mapping, based on automated topographical measurements, morphometric analysis and remote age determination, to produce a geological and hydrological history of key examples of outflow channels. Three dimensional models of the Martian surface will be automatically derived from the HRSC images, using a refinement of existing stereo processing software systems. These 3D models and the associated images, co-registered with data from previous US missions, will be used to map and quantify geomorphic features associated with the outflow channels. Automated crater detection algorithms (developed under existing PPARC support) will be applied to derive ages of surface units and constrain a time-stratigraphic sequence of climatic and geological events. We will use these results to compute estimates of flow velocities and water discharges associated with flood events. This information will provide important clues to understanding the evolution of water on Mars and has implications for discovering the presence or past presence of alien life. This work will form part of the scientific output from the High Resolution Stereo Camera operations phase of the ESA Mars Express mission.
Description Discovered a fossilized frozen sea ice pack as the grant started and reported in Nature. Produced a 3d terrain model mosaic of the entire region within the area of the Elysium sea where Platy surface features were observed (sea-ice). Discovered various other permafrost phenomena, such as stone circles. Continued debate with US colleagues who do not accept the frozen sea hypothesis.
Exploitation Route Systematic study using DTMs now employed for selecting ExoMars landing sites.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Security and Diplomacy

URL http://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=JPALM41
Description Stereo 3d employed for a variety of different industrial applications including (1) inspection of process control furnaces during operation; (2) automated detection of cracks in molten steel on a rolling mill; (3) autonomous navigation.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description Aurora RA: Understanding the role of liquids in the formation of RSLs and slope streaks within Valles Marineris using 3D super-resolution restoration.
Amount £402,590 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/S001891/1 
Organisation UK Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2018 
End 07/2021
Description Free University Berlin (FUB) - surface spectral bi-directional correction 
Organisation Free University of Berlin
Department Medical School Berlin
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provided 50m HRSC DTM mosaic covering the whole of the Valles Marineris region (82 image strips). This has been the result of 18 months of work.
Collaborator Contribution FUB will apply orthorectification (terrain correction) of all the constituent HRSC colour (RGB) and panchromatic and then apply a 5x5km TES phase angle correction to provide a seamless pan-sharpened colour mosaic of the whole region. They will also assess the utility of a 1 x 1km OMEGA-based BRF to provide an improved surface phase angle correction.
Impact working with geologists and webGIS mapping specialists
Start Year 2020
Title Terrain modelling software for planetary surfaces 
Description A fully automated Digital Terrain Modelling software based around an open source core called the NASA Ames Stereo Pipeline has been developed called CASP-GO 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2017 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact This software is now being integrated into the ASP GitHub and will be made available to the worldwide scientific community shortly 
URL https://github.com/NeoGeographyToolkit