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WATSEN - A Mid-IR spectrometer, humidity sensor and optical microscope to identify the subsurface water and mineralogy of Mars

Grady, M. M.; Tomkinson, T.; Wolters, S. D.; Guthery, W.; Bohman, A. F. and Sund, A. T. (2009). WATSEN - A Mid-IR spectrometer, humidity sensor and optical microscope to identify the subsurface water and mineralogy of Mars. LPI Contribution , 1502 p. 14.

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Mars is currently the main focus of extra-terrestrial planetary investigation in terms of the number of surface and orbital instruments deployed there. Although several missions have scratched into the surface (most recently Phoenix) there have not been deeper measurements of the martian subsurface. Phoenix has discovered the surrounding soil to be comparable to soils found in Antarctica's Dry Valleys [1]. It seems clear from the initial results that the soil is pH alkaline (8.3 ± 0.5) [2] and that water has been involved in the formation of the soil, detected in the form of subliming ice [3]. The presence of CaCO 3 and soluble ionic species detected by TEGA and MECA [4,2] further suggests the presence of water interacting with soil at some point. Since conditions at the martian surface are unfavourable for the presence of water and potential organic signatures [5] it is necessary to look deeper into the subsurface. Recent classification of geological eras [6] suggests an early warm and wet martian environment in which phyllosilicates formed (called the Phyllosian era). Nili Fossae [7] is a region that the orbital VNIR and IR spectrometers OMEGA and CRISM [8,9] have indentified which correspond mineralogically and through crater counts to this early Phyllosian era. This location would be a prime candidate for the detection of Mars' fluvial past, with phyllosilicates detected and CRISM indentifying MgCO3 [ 10] (known to be abundant in the presence of water, CO, and an alkaline pH; all conditions hospitable for most terrestrial life).

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: The Authors
ISSN: 0161-5297
Extra Information: This volume of this publication contains the program and abstract details of The New Martian Chemistry Workshop, July 27-28, 2009, Medford, Massachusetts. This volume was compiled in 2009 by Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston
Academic Unit/Department: Science > Physical Sciences
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 33608
Depositing User: Patricia Taylor
Date Deposited: 16 May 2012 15:17
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2016 14:09
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