The polar regions of Mars host layered deposits (PLD; ice sheets that together have a volume similar to the Greenland icesheet on Earth) that record climate signals over millions of years of accumulation. The signals stored in the martian layers are caused by variations in rates of ice and dust accumulation and likely record atmospheric variability and perhaps volcanic events. To date, climate models based on derived orbital parameters have given us the most insight into what happened in Mars’ recent past (going back ~20 Myr). However, detailed analyses of the PLD layers would provide a unique opportunity to increase our understanding of the climate history on Mars and test our climate models on a simplified terrestrial planet.
This study will establish a core group of researchers and technologists that will be likely to propose a future mission to the Martian polar regions. The broad interdisciplinary approach necessary for designing an ambitious climate investigation will bring together a group with a diverse set of skills, and will be very inclusive of many types of analytical and remote sensing techniques. We will also identify future opportunities to leverage existing facilities for the study of Mars ice analog samples, and testing hardware for future missions.