Lori K. Fenton

Lori K. Fenton
SETI Institute · Carl Sagan Center

PhD

About

148
Publications
21,824
Reads
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2,252
Citations
Introduction
My primary research interests include aeolian geomorphology -- how wind shapes a planetary surface -- for Mars, Earth, Titan, and Venus, recent and ongoing climate changes, and the mobility of wind-blown sand and dust. My research makes use of many different types of information, including visible and thermal imagery from spacecraft and atmospheric models such as the NASA Ames Mars Global Climate Model (Ames MGCM) and the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS).
Additional affiliations
June 2006 - present
SETI Institute
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • Atmospheric modeling using global climate models, mesoscale models, and large eddy simulations. Morphological studies of ripples, dunes, dune fields, and yardangs to determine sediment sources as well as past and present wind circulation patterns.
March 2003 - June 2006
Arizona State University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
July 1996 - March 2003
California Institute of Technology
Field of study
  • Planetary Science
September 1991 - June 1996
University of Maryland, College Park
Field of study
  • Astronomy and Physics

Publications

Publications (148)
Article
Full-text available
Bedforms on Earth and Mars are often preserved in the rock record in the form of sedimentary rock with distinct cross‐bedding. On rare occasions, the full‐surface geometry of a bedform can be preserved through burial and lithification. These features, known as paleobedforms, are found in a variety of geographic locations on Mars. Evidence in the mo...
Article
On Earth and throughout our solar system, ripples and dunes in sand and dust offer insights into how winds blow, liquid currents flow, and solid particles fly and bounce over the terrain.
Article
The Mars Surface Wind Tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center is used to simulate windblown (aeolian) movement of sand and dust on the martian surface. Because objects weigh less on Mars, the tunnel employs lighter sand in the form of crushed walnut shell to compensate for Earth’s higher gravity. The tunnel is thus operated on the principle of ‘grain-w...
Article
Full-text available
As one of two planetary objects (other than Earth) that have solid surfaces, thick atmospheres, and astrobiological significance, Titan, like Mars, merits ongoing study with multiple spacecraft. We propose that a Titan orbiter dedicated to geophysics, geology, and atmospheric science be added to the New Frontiers menu for the coming decade.
Article
Full-text available
Mars Polar Science is an integrated, compelling system that serves as a nearby analogue to numerous other planets, supports human exploration, and habitability. Mars possesses the closest and most easily accessible layered ice deposits outside of Earth, and accessing those layers to read the climate record would be a triumph for planetary science.
Article
Full-text available
In Scandia Cavi on Mars, barchans migrating over a field of transverse aeolian ridges (TARs) leave behind distinctive trails (“wakes”) comprising both TARs undergoing exhumation and coarse-grained ripples being shed from the barchans. With distance upwind from the barchans, the combined pattern of these bedforms coarsens and defect density decrease...
Chapter
Full-text available
The Martian dust cycle is the primary driver of atmospheric and surface variability in the arid, low-surface pressure climate of present-day Mars. Martian dust is ubiquitous across the surface, produces Mars's characteristic rusty color, and, in the modern era, may derive primarily from one huge, wind-eroded sedimentary deposit. Lofted dust absorbs...
Article
Full-text available
Aeolian sediment transport, deposition, and erosion have been ongoing throughout Mars's history. This record of widespread aeolian processes is preserved in landforms and geologic units that retain important clues about past environmental conditions including wind patterns. In this study we describe landforms within Melas Chasma, Valles Marineris,...
Article
The Mars Global Digital Dune Database (MGD³) archives the location of large dark dunes on Mars, including several morphological, mineralogical, and thermophysical characteristics; it has been widely used by the Mars scientific community as a resource for aeolian studies (Hayward, R. K., Mullins, K. F., Fenton, L. K., Hare, T. M., Titus, T. N., Bour...
Preprint
Full-text available
Wind is the process that connects Mars' climate system. Measurements of Mars atmospheric winds from orbit would dramatically advance our understanding of Mars and help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Multiple instrument candidates are in development and will be ready for flight in the next decade. We urge the Decadal Survey to make...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Windblown sand dunes are one of many distinct aeolian features that have shaped the martian landscape. Many important questions about the large dark dunes remain unanswered, such as: To what extent does aeolian sand composition represent the surrounding surface? What is the provenance of dune sand and how did it form into wind-mobilized grains? How...
Article
Full-text available
Wind has been an enduring geologic agent throughout the history of Mars, but it is often unclear where and why sediment is mobile in the current epoch. We investigated whether eolian bed-form (dune and ripple) transport rates are depressed or enhanced in some areas by local or regional boundary conditions (e.g., topography, sand supply/availability...
Article
Change detection analyses of aeolian bedforms (dunes and ripples), using multitemporal images acquired by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), can reveal migration of bedforms on Mars. Here we investigated bedform mobility (evidence of wind-driven migration or activity), from analysis of HiRISE tempor...
Article
The plains ripples of Meridiani Planum are the first paleo-aeolian bedforms on Mars to have had their last migration episode constrained in time (to ~50-200 ka). Here we test how variations in orbital configuration, air pressure, and atmospheric dust loading over the past 400 kyr affect bedform mobility and crest alignment. Using the National Aeron...
Article
The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity engaged in a monthlong campaign investigating the Bagnold dune field in Gale crater. What represents the first in situ investigation of a dune field on another planet has resulted in a number of discoveries. Collectively, the Curiosity rover team has compiled the most comprehensive survey of any extraterr...
Chapter
Full-text available
Over the past several decades, orbital observations of lofted dust have revealed the importance of mineral aerosols as a climate forcing mechanism on both Earth and Mars. Increasingly detailed and diverse data sets have provided an ever-improving understanding of dust sources, transport pathways, and sinks on both planets, but the role of dust in m...
Article
Full-text available
We present a concept for using a polarization sensitive multispectral lidar to map the seasonal distribution and exchange of volatiles among the reservoirs of the Martian surface and atmosphere. The LIDAR instrument will be a multi-wavelength, altitude-resolved, active near-infrared (NIR, with 10 bands around 1.6 microns) instrument to measure the...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past several decades, orbital observations of lofted dust have revealed the importance of mineral aerosols as a climate forcing mechanism on both Earth and Mars. Increasingly detailed and diverse data sets have provided an ever-improving understanding of dust sources, transport pathways, and sinks on both planets, but the role of dust in m...
Article
Full-text available
The essential dynamical characteristic of convective vortices, including dust devils, is a highly localized vorticity tube that extends into the vertical. This chapter is concerned with both the generation of vorticity and the subsequent focusing of that vorticity into a tight vortex, and with the environmental conditions that are conducive to the...
Article
Full-text available
Dust devils that leave dark- or light-toned tracks are common on Mars and they can also be found on the Earth’s surface. Dust devil tracks (hereinafter DDTs) are ephemeral surface features with mostly sub-annual lifetimes. Regarding their size, DDT widths can range between ∼1 m and ∼1 km, depending on the diameter of dust devil that created the tra...
Article
It is now known unambiguously that wind-driven bedform activity is occurring on the surface of Mars today, including early detections of active sand dunes in Meridiani Planum’s Endeavour crater. Many of these reports are only based on a few sets of observations of relatively isolated bedforms and lack regional context. Here, we investigate aeolian...
Article
Wind is the primary geologic process currently active on the surface of Mars. Albedo variations at eight dune fields were tested based on the hypothesis that a dune’s ripple migration rate is correlated to its albedo. On Mars, where the atmospheric pressure is low, dust is removed from the surface of a dune by saltating sand. Therefore, more active...
Article
Full-text available
A history of martian surface changes is documented by a sequence of global mosaics made up of Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera daily color images from 1999 to 2006, together with a single mosaic from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Color Imager in 2009. These observations show that changes in the global albedo patterns of Mars take pla...
Article
The 2° x 2° region surrounding the landing site and traverse of Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity is richly blanketed with several generations and classes of aeolian features, including coarse-grained ripples, large dark dunes (LDDs), transverse aeolian ridges (TARs), erosional scars, depositional wind streaks of two types, and a new class o...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Introduction: In the past decade, Mars has sur-prised the planetary community with the unexpected discovery of contemporary aeolian activity. Specifical-ly, ripples and dunes have been found to migrate and change in volume in several different environments on the planet [e.g., 1-3], sand has saltated to the tops of rover decks [4-6], and in situ ob...
Article
Processes, environments, and the energy associated with the transport and deposition of sand at Gusev crater are characterized at the microscopic scale through the comparison of statistical moments for particle size and shape distributions. Bivariate and factor analyses define distinct textural groups at 51 sites along the traverse completed by the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In 2005, a large quantity of the mineral gypsum was unexpectedly identified on Mars in the high latitude dune sands of Olympia Undae [1]. Because gypsum is formed in the presence of liquid water, the discovery of this extensive deposit has important implications for the climatic and sedimentary history of the currently cold and dry north polar regi...
Article
New orbital and surface observations of migrating dunes, variable albedo, and submeter sediment movement confirm a high degree of aeolian activity in Endeavour Crater.
Article
Full-text available
This is an analog comparison study using visible/near-infrared spectra to compare field samples of White Sands New Mexico with known lab samples.