Clay minerals in nakhlites and on Mars

Needham, A. W.; Tomkinson, T.; Howard, K. T. and Grady, M. M. (2009). Clay minerals in nakhlites and on Mars. In: 40th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, 23-27 Mar 2009, Houston, TX, USA.



The search for life beyond Earth is the driving motivation for present and planned missions to Mars by both NASA and ESA. Water is a key ingredient and medium for life, yet the aqueous history of Mars is very poorly understood. To deepen our knowledge of Mars’ history, and aid in the search for life, it is essential to investigate secondary minerals, such as phyllosilicates, which formed by the interaction of igneous rocks with aqueous solutions.
Secondary minerals contain chemical, structural and isotopic records of their formation and alteration histories – including proxies for key environmental conditions such as temperature. A major challenge in understanding these records will be the efficient integration of data returned by lander/orbiter missions with
high-precision laboratory studies of martian meteorites and terrestrial analogues. The present study has a twofold approach: 1) Investigation of the effects of mineral heterogeneity on reflectance spectra, and 2) Investigation of clay mineral assemblages in martian meteorites, specifically the Nakhlites.

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