Mars for Earthlings > Lesson Modules > In-Class Activity 1- A Timescale Comparison

A Timescale Comparison

In-Class Activity 1_Age & Times of Mars vs. Earth

Julia Kahmann-Robinson PhD and Marjorie Chan PhD, University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics

Preparation

  1. Using either the image file provided in the Age & Times of Mars vs. Earth learning module or images of your own, display the geologic timescales of Mars and Earth
  2. Have copies of both Utah geologic maps and Mars geologic maps available for students to use. See Resources & References in Age & Times of Mars vs. Earth.

Engage

Compare the geologic timescales of Earth vs. Mars and ask students the following questions (see Image File if needed):

  1. What differences do you observe in the timescales?
  2. What do you think is responsible for those differences?

Explore

Have students view the following YouTube video about the Noachian period of Mars (an artist's rendition/animation of the period):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfYIvkTQ2pc

  1. What do students notice about the early period of Mars?
  2. How similar/dissimilar is it from Earth?
  3. Why did Mars not "thrive" as Earth did?

Explain

  • Due to Earth's diverse Earth processes and its location in the habitability zone, Earth's geologic history is also diverse and varied with respect to Mars. Note: The habitable zone (a.k.a. the Goldilocks zone) is the region around a star where planetary bodies with sufficient atmospheric pressure can support liquid water at their surface. The Kepler project specifically looks for habitable planets. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/main/index.html#.UjJMMbwZ9ho
  • Earth's geologic history is largely defined by its faunal/fossil record, whereas Mars cannot be dated by such a method.
  • Mars geologic history is defined by the amount and size of craters per unit area (see Crater Counting In-Class Activity in learning module Meteorites & Impact Craters).

Elaborate

Geologic map of Utah on Earth

View a geologic Map of the state of Utah on Earth: http://geology.utah.gov/maps/geomap/postcards/pdf/utgeo_postcd.pdf

Note: this map is simplified

  1. What is the scale of the map and how many degrees of latitude and longitude does the map cover?
  2. Roughly, how many colors are used on the map and what do they represent?
  3. How old can the terrain be in Utah? Why is there so little of this terrain in your opinion?

Geologic map of Mars

View a geologic Map of Mars: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/mars_maps/1083/index.html

  1. What is the scale of the map and how many degrees of latitude and longitude does the map cover?
  2. Roughly, how many colors are used on the map and what do they represent? How does this differ from the Utah map?
  3. How old is the oldest terrain according to the map? If this is hard to discern, why is it?

Evaluate

  1. Consider the difference between Mars and Earth. Why was only a geologic map of Utah provided you? What, potentially, is the difficulty in providing you a geologic map of the entire Earth?
  2. If we could somehow, miraculously, transform the Mars terrain into the Earth terrain such that their geologic maps would be similar what would have to occur on Mars (cite at least 4 events and/or processes)?