New Curtin Study Pinpoints Likely Home Of Martian Meteorites

©Curtin University


Curtin University researchers have pinpointed the likely origin of a group of meteorites ejected from Mars, using a machine learning algorithm that analyses high-resolution planetary images.

The new research, published in Nature Communications, identified meteorites that landed on Earth likely originated from Mars' Tooting crater, located in the Tharsis region, which is the largest volcanic province in the solar system.


科廷大学地球和行星科学学院太空科学技术中心的首席研究员安东尼·拉甘博士(Anthony Lagain)表示,新发现将有助于提供揭开红色星球地质历史的背景。


"By observing the secondary crater fields - or the small craters formed by the ejecta that was thrown out of the larger crater formed recently on the planet, we found that the Tooting crater is the most likely source of these meteorites ejected from Mars 1.1 million years ago.

"For the first time, through this research, the geological context of a group of Martian meteorites is accessible, 10 years before NASA's Mars Sample Return mission is set to send back samples collected by the Perseverance rover currently exploring the Jezero crater."

Co-Lead Professor Gretchen Benedix, also from Curtin University's Space Science and Technology Centre, said the algorithm that made this possible was a major step forward in how scientists can use the terabytes of planetary data available.

"We would not have been able to recognise the youngest craters on Mars without counting the tens of millions of craters smaller than one kilometre across," Professor Benedix said.

“这个发现意味着火山喷发的职业rred in this region 300 million years ago, which is very recent at a geological time scale. It also provides new insights on the structure of the planet, beneath this volcanic province."

Dr Lagain said the research would help create a better understanding of the formation and the evolution of Mars, as well as Earth, potentially offering benefits for other industry sectors on our planet.

"Mapping craters on Mars is a first step. The algorithm we developed can be retrained to perform automated digital mapping of any celestial body. It can be applied to Earth to assist with managing agriculture, the environment and even potentially natural disasters such as fires or floods," Dr Lagain said.


Using the fastest supercomputer in the Southern Hemisphere, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, and the Curtin HIVE (Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch), researchers analysed a very large volume of high-resolution planetary images through a machine learning algorithm to detect impact craters.


The research also involved experts from Curtin's Space Science and Technology Centre, Curtin's Earth Dynamics Research Group, the Western Australian Museum, the CSIRO - Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, the University of Toulouse in France, and the University Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Africa.

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