Ms. Ruilin CHENG Department of Earth Sciences, HKU
Mars is the most accessible planet for understanding the history of our solar system and the search for life beyond Earth. Before a manned mission to Mars, the study of Martian terrestrial analogues can provide a way to understand the possible geomorphological processes, assess the diversity of environments on Mars, and test future landers and rovers. The West Qaidam Basin was recently proposed as a Martian analogue because its climate conditions, mineralogy, and geomorphology are similar to Mars. However, more detailed studies need to be done to unravel the genesis and the evolution of the similar geomorphological features between the West Qaidam Basin and Mars, and extrapolate the possible processes or environmental conditions on Mars. There are several unique geomorphological features in the West Qaidam Basin: jigsaw puzzle-like polygons, a black wind streak, complex mountain structures, and fine layers of anticlines in the playa area. Through the studies of these features, I hope to understand the processes that shaped the surface of the West Qaidam Basin, and how the strong evaporation has influenced these processes, and use the results to interpret possible environmental conditions on Mars. Finally, I would like to develop a strategy for the large scaled, coordinated space orbital and roving operations for Mars Explorations based on the West Qaidam Basin Martian analogue.