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Nature and origin of the hematite-bearing plains of Terra Meridiani based on analyses of orbital and Mars Exploration rover data sets

Arvidson, R. E. and Grotzinger, J. and Ehlmann, B. L. (2006) Nature and origin of the hematite-bearing plains of Terra Meridiani based on analyses of orbital and Mars Exploration rover data sets. Journal of Geophysical Research E, 111 (E12). Art. No. E12S08. ISSN 0148-0227. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20121012-141653196

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Abstract

The ~5 km of traverses and observations completed by the Opportunity rover from Endurance crater to the Fruitbasket outcrop show that the Meridiani plains consist of sulfate-rich sedimentary rocks that are largely covered by poorly-sorted basaltic aeolian sands and a lag of granule-sized hematitic concretions. Orbital reflectance spectra obtained by Mars Express OMEGA over this region are dominated by pyroxene, plagioclase feldspar, crystalline hematite (i.e., concretions), and nano-phase iron oxide dust signatures, consistent with Pancam and Mini-TES observations. Mössbauer Spectrometer observations indicate more olivine than observed with the other instruments, consistent with preferential optical obscuration of olivine features in mixtures with pyroxene and dust. Orbital data covering bright plains located several kilometers to the south of the landing site expose a smaller areal abundance of hematite, more dust, and a larger areal extent of outcrop compared to plains proximal to the landing site. Low-albedo, low-thermal-inertia, windswept plains located several hundred kilometers to the south of the landing site are predicted from OMEGA data to have more hematite and fine-grained olivine grains exposed as compared to the landing site. Low calcium pyroxene dominates spectral signatures from the cratered highlands to the south of Opportunity. A regional-scale model is presented for the formation of the plains explored by Opportunity, based on a rising ground water table late in the Noachian Era that trapped and altered local materials and aeolian basaltic sands. Cessation of this aqueous process led to dominance of aeolian processes and formation of the current configuration of the plains.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2006JE002728DOIArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Arvidson, R. E.0000-0002-2854-0362
Grotzinger, J.0000-0001-9324-1257
Ehlmann, B. L.0000-0002-2745-3240
Additional Information:© 2006 by the American Geophysical Union. Received 7 April 2006; revised 10 July 2006; accepted 13 July 2006; published 22 November 2006. We thank the superb group of engineers and payload personnel who have made the Opportunity and OMEGA observations, and we thank NASA for support of Athena Science Team Members.
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Issue or Number:E12
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121012-141653196
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20121012-141653196
Official Citation:Arvidson, R. E., et al. (2006), Nature and origin of the hematite-bearing plains of Terra Meridiani based on analyses of orbital and Mars Exploration rover data sets, J. Geophys. Res., 111, E12S08, doi:10.1029/2006JE002728
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:34879
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Oct 2012 21:32
Last Modified:06 Nov 2020 17:02

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