DETERMINING THE RELIABILITY OF EARTHLING ANALOGS TO MARTIAN AQUEOUS GEOMORPHOLOGY STRUCTURES
The NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program is accepting submissions for participation to conduct experiments in the cargo bay test area of its modified KC-1 35A turbojet transport which flies a series of parabolic arcs to produce periods of micro-, hypo-, and hyper-gravity that can last up to about half a minute. The experiment proposed here will include measuring differences in settling rates between particles of differing sizes ranging from fine sand to gravel. NASA’s KC-1 35A turbojet can simulate Mars-gravity (3.7 m/s2) for approximately 30 seconds. Therefore, because of the lengthy settling rates of particle sizes smaller than fine sand, these smaller sizes will not be experimented with. We will experiment with liquid viscosities of pure distilled water, hypersaline water, and many other viscosities that can be assumed to have been on Mars’ surface in the geologic past.
The primary purpose of this experiment will be to determine the reliability of Earth analogs for aqueous paleoenvironments on Mars and whether modifications should be made to our interpretations of these sedimentary structures based on the differences in each planet’s gravity. If sedimentation rates are affected by gravity disproportionally across the spectrum of grain sizes, then Martian aqueous geomorphology could indeed be different from Earthling analogs. A secondary purpose of this experiment is to determine the validity of the Stokes’ Law derivation for finding terminal velocity of particle settling among different Reynolds number values and different gravitational values.