HiRISE observations of Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) during southern summer on Mars

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Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) are active features on Mars that might require flowing water. Most examples observed through 2011 formed on steep, equator-facing slopes in the southern mid-latitudes. They form and grow during warm seasons and fade and often completely disappear during colder seasons, but recur over multiple Mars years. They are recognizable by their incremental growth, relatively low albedo and downhill orientation. We examined all images acquired by HiRISE during Ls 250–10° (slightly longer than southern summer, Ls 270–360°) of Mars years 30–31 (03/2011–10/2011), and supplemented our results with data from previous studies to better understand the geologic context and characteristics of RSL. We also confirmed candidate and likely sites from previous studies and discovered new RSL sites. We report 13 confirmed RSL sites, including the 7 in McEwen et al. (McEwen et al. [2011]. Science 333(6043), 740–743]. The observed seasonality, latitudinal and slope orientation preferences, and THEMIS bright- ness temperatures indicate that RSL require warm temperatures to form. We conclude that RSL are a unique phenomenon on Mars, clearly distinct from other slope processes that occur at high latitudes associated with seasonal CO2 frost, and episodic mass wasting on equatorial slopes. However, only 41% (82 out of 200) of the sites that present apparently suitable conditions for RSL formation (steep, equator-facing rocky slopes with bedrock exposure) in the southern mid-latitudes (28–60°S) contain any candidate RSL, with confirmed RSL present only in 7% (13 sites) of those locations. Significant variability in abundance, size and exact location of RSL is also observed at most sites, indicating additional controls such as availability of water or salts that might be playing a crucial role.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title HiRISE observations of Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) during southern summer on Mars
Series title Icarus
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2013.12.021
Volume 231
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 12 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Icarus
First page 365
Last page 376
Other Geospatial Mars
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