Mars for Earthlings > Lesson Modules > Homework 2- The Color of Temperature

The Color of Temperature

Homework 2_Extremophiles

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


Identify why an environment is considered "extreme" and draw inferences about life based upon the attributes/characteristics of these environments.

Extremophiles in hot water

Watch the following YouTube video created by GNC Science and answer the following questions:

  1. Why is this environment extreme? List characteristics of the environment that would classify this environment as extreme.
  2. Given the list of characteristics you provided in #1, name the types of extremophiles that could exist there [refer to the list of extremophiles provided by your instructor].
  3. The colors of the hot spring have meaning. What do the colors represent? Which colors represent warmer water and conversely cooler water?

Yellowstone: An Earth Analog

The photograph (Figure 1), taken in Yellowstone National Park, is a hot spring with out flow channels (hydrothermal environment, similar to above). For Figure 1 draw a contour map of temperature.

  1. Determine how many colors you observe and assign a hypothetical temperature range to each color.
  2. Using your temperature ranges, come up with a contour interval of temperature (Ex: 1 contour line = 5 degrees Celsius) and make a contour map of the image underneath the photograph provided. You may use trace paper over the image to represent the changes you see in color.

Holden Crater, Mars

Holden Crater, a potential landing site for MSL Curiosity, is thought to have hydrothermal deposits similar to the Earth environments above. Figure 2 is an example of the terrain provided by HiRISE.

  1. What do you think the colors mean in the HiRISE image, is it the same?
  2. Using JMARS, capture one CRISM image that would infer a hydrothermal environment in the past below. Hints: (1) Review navigation in JMARS if necessary and investigate the crater walls/rims. (2) Think about what mineral assemblages would suggest a hydrothermal environment.