Martian and Terrestrial Rock Abrasion from Wind Tunnel and Field StudiesEarth and Mars exhibit ventifacts, rocks that have been abraded by saltating sand. Previous theoretical and laboratory studies have determined abrasion susceptibilities of rocks as a function of sand type and impact angle and rock material strengths. For the last two years we have been engaged in wind tunnel and field studies to better understand the fundamental factors which control and influence rock abrasion and ventifact formation on Earth and Mars. In particular, we are examining: 1) What types of rocks (composition, texture, and shape) preferentially erode and what are the relative rates of one type vs. another? 2) What are the controlling factors of the aeolian sand cloud (flux, particle speed, surface roughness, etc) which favor rock abrasion?, 3) How do specific ventifact characteristics tie into their mode of formation and rock properties? We find several important factors: 1) Initial rock shape controls the rate of abrasion, with steeper faces abrading faster than shallower ones. The relationship is partly dependent on angle-dependent flux (proportional to sin[theta]) but exhibits additional non-linear effects from momentum transfer efficiency and rebound effects that vary with incidence angle. 2) Irregular targets with pits or grooves abrade at greater rates than targets with smooth surfaces, with indentations generally enlarging with time. Surfaces become rougher with time. 3) Targets also abrade via slope retreat, which is roughly dependent on the slope of the front face. The formation of basal sills is common, as observed on terrestrial and Martian ventifacts.
Bridges, N. T. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Greeley, R. (Arizona State Univ. AZ, United States)
Eddlemon, E. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Laity, J. E. (California State Univ. Northridge, CA, United States)
Phoreman, J. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
White, B. R. (California Univ. Davis, CA, United States)