The Mars Dunes

This week was definitely one for the books. I was able to go out and assist our park’s geologist and Dr. Jim Zimbelman, a planetary geologist from the Smithsonian, with GPS mapping of our park’s dunes. It was an honor to work beside Dr. Zimbelman, as I was able to learn so much about his work and the dunes of Mars. His past/current projects were the Mars Rovers and now the Mars Dunes. He has over 80 peer-reviewed articles to his name, 370 published abstracts, and he has¬†worked with¬†NASA and the Planetary Cartography Working Group, and been Chairman of the Mars Surveyor Instrument Review Panel and the Planetary Geology and Geophysics Review Panel. He is quite the scientist, and it was honor to be allowed to help with his studies of the dunes. We went out for about five hours and mapped the crest and the brink of seven different dunes, all of which have been studied and tracked for the past eight years. We were calculating the height of the different dunes to see if their have been any significant movement or changes in their makeup over time. The hiking was strenuous and the dunes were steep, but it was overall worth to get to do research and talk with Dr. Zimbelman. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime research opportunity, and I am so glad I was able to partake in it!

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