Matching Items (13)

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The effects of chemical weathering on thermal-infrared spectral data and models: implications for aqueous processes on the Martian surface

Description

Chemical and mineralogical data from Mars shows that the surface has been chemically weathered on local to regional scales. Chemical trends and the types of chemical weathering products present on the surface and their abundances can elucidate information about past

Chemical and mineralogical data from Mars shows that the surface has been chemically weathered on local to regional scales. Chemical trends and the types of chemical weathering products present on the surface and their abundances can elucidate information about past aqueous processes. Thermal-infrared (TIR) data and their respective models are essential for interpreting Martian mineralogy and geologic history. However, previous studies have shown that chemical weathering and the precipitation of fine-grained secondary silicates can adversely affect the accuracy of TIR spectral models. Furthermore, spectral libraries used to identify minerals on the Martian surface lack some important weathering products, including poorly-crystalline aluminosilicates like allophane, thus eliminating their identification in TIR spectral models. It is essential to accurately interpret TIR spectral data from chemically weathered surfaces to understand the evolution of aqueous processes on Mars. Laboratory experiments were performed to improve interpretations of TIR data from weathered surfaces. To test the accuracy of deriving chemistry of weathered rocks from TIR spectroscopy, chemistry was derived from TIR models of weathered basalts from Baynton, Australia and compared to actual weathering rind chemistry. To determine how specific secondary silicates affect the TIR spectroscopy of weathered basalts, mixtures of basaltic minerals and small amounts of secondary silicates were modeled. Poorly-crystalline aluminosilicates were synthesized and their TIR spectra were added to spectral libraries. Regional Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) data were modeled using libraries containing these poorly-crystalline aluminosilicates to test for their presence on the Mars. Chemistry derived from models of weathered Baynton basalts is not accurate, but broad chemical weathering trends can be interpreted from the data. TIR models of mineral mixtures show that small amounts of crystalline and amorphous silicate weathering products (2.5-5 wt.%) can be detected in TIR models and can adversely affect modeled plagioclase abundances. Poorly-crystalline aluminosilicates are identified in Northern Acidalia, Solis Planum, and Meridiani. Previous studies have suggested that acid sulfate weathering was the dominant surface alteration process for the past 3.5 billion years; however, the identification of allophane indicates that alteration at near-neutral pH occurred on regional scales and that acid sulfate weathering is not the only weathering process on Mars.

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2011

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Development and applications of a multispectral microscopic imager for the in situ exploration of planetary surfaces

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Future robotic and human missions to the Moon and Mars will need in situ capabilities to characterize the mineralogy of rocks and soils within a microtextural context. Such spatially-correlated information is considered crucial for correct petrogenetic interpretations and will be

Future robotic and human missions to the Moon and Mars will need in situ capabilities to characterize the mineralogy of rocks and soils within a microtextural context. Such spatially-correlated information is considered crucial for correct petrogenetic interpretations and will be key observations for assessing the potential for past habitability on Mars. These data will also enable the selection of the highest value samples for further analysis and potential caching for return to Earth. The Multispectral Microscopic Imager (MMI), similar to a geologist's hand lens, advances the capabilities of current microimagers by providing multispectral, microscale reflectance images of geological samples, where each image pixel is comprised of a 21-band spectrum ranging from 463 to 1735 nm. To better understand the capabilities of the MMI in future surface missions to the Moon and Mars, geological samples comprising a range of Mars-relevant analog environments as well as 18 lunar rocks and four soils, from the Apollo collection were analyzed with the MMI. Results indicate that the MMI images resolve the fine-scale microtextural features of samples, and provide important information to help constrain mineral composition. Spectral end-member mapping revealed the distribution of Fe-bearing minerals (silicates and oxides), along with the presence of hydrated minerals. In the case of the lunar samples, the MMI observations also revealed the presence of opaques, glasses, and in some cases, the effects of space weathering in samples. MMI-based petrogenetic interpretations compare favorably with laboratory observations (including VNIR spectroscopy, XRD, and thin section petrography) and previously published analyses in the literature (for the lunar samples). The MMI was also deployed as part of the 2010 ILSO-ISRU field test on the slopes of Mauna Kea, Hawaii and inside the GeoLab as part of the 2011 Desert RATS field test at the Black Point Lava Flow in northern Arizona to better assess the performance of the MMI under realistic field conditions (including daylight illumination) and mission constraints to support human exploration. The MMI successfully imaged rocks and soils in outcrops and samples under field conditions and mission operation scenarios, revealing the value of the MMI to support future rover and astronaut exploration of planetary surfaces.

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2012

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Distribution of windblown sediment in small craters on Mars

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Many shallow craters near the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover landing site contain asymmetric deposits of windblown sediments which could indicate the predominant local wind direction at the time of deposition or redistribution. Wind tunnel simulations and field studies of

Many shallow craters near the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover landing site contain asymmetric deposits of windblown sediments which could indicate the predominant local wind direction at the time of deposition or redistribution. Wind tunnel simulations and field studies of terrestrial craters were used to determine trends in deposition as a function of crater morphometry and wind direction. Terrestrial analog field work at the Amboy lava field, Mojave Desert, California, included real-time wind measurements and assessments of active sediment deposition in four small (<100 m) craters. Preliminary results indicate that reverse flow or stagnant wind and deposition on the upwind side of the crater floor occurs in craters with depth-to-diameter (d/D) ratios ≥0.05. Measurements taken within a crater of d/D of ~0.02 do not indicate reverse flow. Therefore, reverse flow is expected to cease within a d/D range of 0.02 to 0.05, resulting in wind movement directly over the crater floor in the downwind direction with no asymmetric sediment deposition. Wind tunnel simulations using six crater models, including a scaled model of a crater from the Amboy lava field, were completed to assess the wind flow in and around craters as a function of crater morphometry (depth, diameter). Reverse flow occurred in craters with d/D ratios ≥0.033, resulting in sediment deposition in the upwind portion of the crater floor. Visual observations of a crater with a d/D of ~0.020 did not indicate reverse flow, similar to the results of field studies; therefore, reverse flow appears to cease within a d/D range of 0.020 to 0.033. Craters with asymmetric aeolian deposits near the Mars Spirit landing site have d/D ratios of 0.034 to 0.076, suggesting that reverse flow occurs in these craters. Thus, the position of windblown sediments in the northwest parts of the crater floors would indicate prevailing winds from the northwest to the southeast, consistent with late afternoon winds as predicted by the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS) circulation model.

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2011

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Meteorites on Mars as planetary research tools with special considerations for Martian weathering processes

Description

The occurrence of exogenic, meteoritic materials on the surface of any world presents opportunities to explore a variety of significant problems in the planetary sciences. In the case of Mars, meteorites found on its surface may help to 1) constrain

The occurrence of exogenic, meteoritic materials on the surface of any world presents opportunities to explore a variety of significant problems in the planetary sciences. In the case of Mars, meteorites found on its surface may help to 1) constrain atmospheric conditions during their time of arrival; 2) provide insights into possible variabilities in meteoroid type sampling between Mars and Earth space environments; 3) aid in our understanding of soil, dust, and sedimentary rock chemistry; 4) assist with the calibration of crater-age dating techniques; and 5) provide witness samples for chemical and mechanical weathering processes. The presence of reduced metallic iron in approximately 88 percent of meteorite falls renders the majority of meteorites particularly sensitive to oxidation by H2O interaction. This makes them excellent markers for H2O occurrence. Several large meteorites have been discovered at Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum by the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs). Significant morphologic characteristics interpretable as weathering features in the Meridiani suite of iron meteorites include a 1) large pit lined with delicate iron protrusions suggestive of inclusion removal by corrosive interaction; 2) differentially eroded kamacite and taenite lamellae on three of the meteorites, providing relative timing through cross-cutting relationships with deposition of 3) an iron oxide-rich dark coating; and 4) regmaglypted surfaces testifying to regions of minimal surface modification; with other regions in the same meteorites exhibiting 5) large-scale, cavernous weathering. Iron meteorites found by Mini-TES at both Meridiani Planum and Gusev Crater have prompted laboratory experiments designed to explore elements of reflectivity, dust cover, and potential oxide coatings on their surfaces in the thermal infrared using analog samples. Results show that dust thickness on an iron substrate need be only one tenth as great as that on a silicate rock to obscure its infrared signal. In addition, a database of thermal emission spectra for 46 meteorites was prepared to aid in the on-going detection and interpretation of these valuable rocks on Mars using Mini-TES instruments on both MER spacecraft. Applications to the asteroidal sciences are also relevant and intended for this database.

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2011

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Active dust devils on Mars: a comparison of six spacecraft landing sites

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Dust devils have proven to be commonplace on Mars, although their occurrence is unevenly distributed across the surface. They were imaged or inferred by all six successful landed spacecraft: the Viking 1 and 2 Landers (VL-1 and VL-2), Mars Pathfinder

Dust devils have proven to be commonplace on Mars, although their occurrence is unevenly distributed across the surface. They were imaged or inferred by all six successful landed spacecraft: the Viking 1 and 2 Landers (VL-1 and VL-2), Mars Pathfinder Lander, the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and the Phoenix Mars Lander. Comparisons of dust devil parameters were based on results from optical and meteorological (MET) detection campaigns. Spatial variations were determined based on comparisons of their frequency, morphology, and behavior. The Spirit data spanning three consecutive martian years is used as the basis of comparison because it is the most extensive on this topic. Average diameters were between 8 and 115 m for all observed or detected dust devils. The average horizontal speed for all of the studies was roughly 5 m/s. At each site dust devil densities peaked between 09:00 and 17:00 LTST during the spring and summer seasons supporting insolation-driven convection as the primary formation mechanism. Seasonal number frequency averaged ~1 dust devils/ km2/sol and spanned a total of three orders of magnitude. Extrapolated number frequencies determined for optical campaigns at the Pathfinder and Spirit sites accounted for temporal and spatial inconsistencies and averaged ~19 dust devils/km2/sol. Dust fluxes calculated from Pathfinder data (5x10-4 kg/m2/s and 7x10-5 kg/m2/s) were well with in the ranges calculated from Spirit data (4.0x10-9 to 4.6x10-4 kg/m2/s for Season One, 5.2x10-7 to 6.2x10-5 kg/m2/s during Season Two, and 1.5x10-7 to 1.6x10-4 kg/m2/s during Season Three). Based on the results a campaign is written for improvements in dust devil detection at the Mars Science Laboratory's (MSL) site. Of the four remaining candidate MSL sites, the dusty plains of Gale crater may potentially be the site with the highest probability of dust devil activity.

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2011

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Hydrogen isotopic systematics of nominally anhydrous phases in martian meteorites

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Hydrogen isotope compositions of the martian atmosphere and crustal materials can provide unique insights into the hydrological and geological evolution of Mars. While the present-day deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) of the Mars atmosphere is well constrained (~6 times that of terrestrial

Hydrogen isotope compositions of the martian atmosphere and crustal materials can provide unique insights into the hydrological and geological evolution of Mars. While the present-day deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) of the Mars atmosphere is well constrained (~6 times that of terrestrial ocean water), that of its deep silicate interior (specifically, the mantle) is less so. In fact, the hydrogen isotope composition of the primordial martian mantle is of great interest since it has implications for the origin and abundance of water on that planet. Martian meteorites could provide key constraints in this regard, since they crystallized from melts originating from the martian mantle and contain phases that potentially record the evolution of the H2O content and isotopic composition of the interior of the planet over time. Examined here are the hydrogen isotopic compositions of Nominally Anhydrous Phases (NAPs) in eight martian meteorites (five shergottites and three nakhlites) using Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS).

This study presents a total of 113 individual analyses of H2O contents and hydrogen isotopic compositions of NAPs in the shergottites Zagami, Los Angeles, QUE 94201, SaU 005, and Tissint, and the nakhlites Nakhla, Lafayette, and Yamato 000593. The hydrogen isotopic variation between and within meteorites may be due to one or more processes including: interaction with the martian atmosphere, magmatic degassing, subsolidus alteration (including shock), and/or terrestrial contamination. Taking into consideration the effects of these processes, the hydrogen isotope composition of the martian mantle may be similar to that of the Earth. Additionally, this study calculated upper limits on the H2O contents of the shergottite and nakhlite parent melts based on the measured minimum H2O abundances in their maskelynites and pyroxenes, respectively. These calculations, along with some petrogenetic assumptions based on previous studies, were subsequently used to infer the H2O contents of the mantle source reservoirs of the depleted shergottites (200-700 ppm) and the nakhlites (10-100 ppm). This suggests that mantle source of the nakhlites is systematically drier than that of the depleted shergottites, and the upper mantle of Mars may have preserved significant heterogeneity in its H2O content. Additionally, this range of H2O contents is not dissimilar to the range observed for the Earth’s upper mantle.

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2015

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High-resolution Martian soil thickness derived from yearly surface temperatures

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The temperature of a planet's surface depends on numerous physical factors, including thermal inertia, albedo and the degree of insolation. Mars is a good target for thermal measurements because the low atmospheric pressure combined with the extreme dryness results in

The temperature of a planet's surface depends on numerous physical factors, including thermal inertia, albedo and the degree of insolation. Mars is a good target for thermal measurements because the low atmospheric pressure combined with the extreme dryness results in a surface dominated by large differences in thermal inertia, minimizing the effect of other physical properties. Since heat is propagated into the surface during the day and re-radiated at night, surface temperatures are affected by sub-surface properties down to several thermal skin depths. Because of this, orbital surface temperature measurements combined with a computational thermal model can be used to determine sub-surface structure. This technique has previously been applied to estimate the thickness and thermal inertia of soil layers on Mars on a regional scale, but the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System "THEMIS" instrument allows much higher-resolution thermal imagery to be obtained. Using archived THEMIS data and the KRC thermal model, a process has been developed for creating high-resolution maps of Martian soil layer thickness and thermal inertia, allowing investigation of the distribution of dust and sand at a scale of 100 m/pixel.

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2013

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Volcanic history of the Tempe volcanic province

Description

Tempe Terra, Mars, has a complex history marked by volcanism and tectonism. Investigation results presented here build on previous work to better determine the volcanic history of the Tempe volcanic province by identifying and mapping previously undetected vents, characterizing all

Tempe Terra, Mars, has a complex history marked by volcanism and tectonism. Investigation results presented here build on previous work to better determine the volcanic history of the Tempe volcanic province by identifying and mapping previously undetected vents, characterizing all vents, identifying spatial and temporal trends in eruptive styles, comparing vent density to similar provinces such as the Snake River Plains of Idaho and Syria Planum and determining absolute age relationships among the volcanic features. Crater size-frequency distribution model ages of 120 Ma to 2.4 Ga indicate the province has been active for over half of the planet's history. During that time, age decreases from southwest to northeast, a trend that parallels the dominant orientation of faulting in the region, providing further evidence that volcanic activity in the region is tectonically controlled (or the tectonics is magmatically controlled). Morphological variation with age hints at an evolving magma source (increasing viscosity) or changing eruption conditions (decreasing eruption rate or eruption through thicker lithosphere).

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2012

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Breaking ground on the Moon and Mars: reconstructing lunar tectonic evolution and Martian central pit crater formation

Description

Understanding the structural evolution of planetary surfaces provides key insights to their physical properties and processes. On the Moon, large-scale tectonism was thought to have ended over a billion years ago. However, new Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Narrow Angle

Understanding the structural evolution of planetary surfaces provides key insights to their physical properties and processes. On the Moon, large-scale tectonism was thought to have ended over a billion years ago. However, new Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) high resolution images show the Moon’s surface in unprecedented detail and show many previously unidentified tectonic landforms, forcing a re-assessment of our views of lunar tectonism. I mapped lobate scarps, wrinkle ridges, and graben across Mare Frigoris – selected as a type area due to its excellent imaging conditions, abundance of tectonic landforms, and range of inferred structural controls. The distribution, morphology, and crosscutting relationships of these newly identified populations of tectonic landforms imply a more complex and longer-lasting history of deformation that continues to today. I also performed additional numerical modeling of lobate scarp structures that indicates the upper kilometer of the lunar surface has experienced 3.5-18.6 MPa of differential stress in the recent past, likely due to global compression from radial thermal contraction.

Central pit craters on Mars are another instance of intriguing structures that probe subsurface physical properties. These kilometer-scale pits are nested in the centers of many impact craters on Mars as well as on icy satellites. They are inferred to form in the presence of a water-ice rich substrate; however, the process(es) responsible for their formation is still debated. Previous models invoke origins by either explosive excavation of potentially water-bearing crustal material, or by subsurface drainage of meltwater and/or collapse. I assessed radial trends in grain size around central pits using thermal inertias calculated from Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) thermal infrared images. Average grain size decreases with radial distance from pit rims – consistent with pit-derived ejecta but not expected for collapse models. I present a melt-contact model that might enable a delayed explosion, in which a central uplift brings ice-bearing substrate into contact with impact melt to generate steam explosions and excavate central pits during the impact modification stage.

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2016

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Amorphous weathering products: evidence for basalt-water interactions and the relevance to paleo-environments on Mars

Description

Amorphous phases are detected over large regions of the Martian surface from orbit and in more localized deposits by rovers on the surface. Amorphous silicates can be primary or secondary in origin, both having formed through very different processes, so

Amorphous phases are detected over large regions of the Martian surface from orbit and in more localized deposits by rovers on the surface. Amorphous silicates can be primary or secondary in origin, both having formed through very different processes, so the unambiguous identification of these phases is important for understanding the geologic history of Mars. Secondary amorphous silicates are poorly understood and underrepresented in spectral libraries because they lack the long-range structural order that makes their crystalline counterparts identifiable in most analytical techniques. Fortunately, even amorphous materials have some degree of short-range order so that distinctions can be made with careful characterization.

Two sets of laboratory experiments were used to produce and characterize amorphous weathering products under probable conditions for the Martian surface, and one global spectral analysis using thermal-infrared (TIR) data from the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument was used to constrain variations in amorphous silicates across the Martian surface. The first set of experiments altered crystalline and glassy basalt samples in an open system under strong (pH 1) and moderate (pH 3) acidic conditions. The second set of experiments simulated a current-day Martian weathering scenario involving transient liquid water where basalt glass weathering solutions, formed in circumneutral (pH ~5.5 and 7) conditions, were rapidly evaporated, precipitating amorphous silicates. The samples were characterized using visible and near-infrared (VNIR) spectroscopy, TIR spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), and X-ray diffraction (XRD).

All experiments formed amorphous silicate phases that are new to spectral libraries. Moderately acidic alteration experiments produced no visible or spectral evidence of alteration products, whereas exposure of basalt glass to strongly acidic fluids produced silica-rich alteration layers that are spectrally consistent with VNIR and TIR spectra from the circum-polar region of Mars, indicating this region has undergone acidic weathering. Circum-netural pH basalt weathering solution precipitates are consistent with amorphous materials measured by rovers in soil and rock surface samples in Gale and Gusev Craters, suggesting transient water interactions over the last 3 billion years. Global spectral analyses determine that alteration conditions have varied across the Martian surface, and that alteration has been long lasting.

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Date Created
2016