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Amorphous Phases on the Surface of MarsBoth primary (volcanic/impact glasses) and secondary (opal/silica, allophane, hisingerite, npOx, S-bearing) amorphous phases appear to be major components of martian surface materials based on orbital and in-situ measurements. A key observation is that whereas regional/global scale amorphous components include altered glass and npOx, local scale amorphous phases include hydrated silica/opal. This suggests widespread alteration at low water-to-rock ratios, perhaps due to snow/ice melt with variable pH, and localized alteration at high water-to-rock ratios. Orbital and in-situ measurements of the regional/global amorphous component on Mars suggests that it is made up of at least three phases: npOx, amorphous silicate (likely altered glass), and an amorphous S-bearing phase. Fundamental questions regarding the composition and the formation of the regional/global amorphous component(s) still remain: Do the phases form locally or have they been homogenized through aeolian activity and derived from the global dust? Is the parent glass volcanic, impact, or both? Are the phases separate or intimately mixed (e.g., as in palagonite)? When did the amorphous phases form? To address the question of source (local and/or global), we need to look for variations in the different phases within the amorphous component through continued modeling of the chemical composition of the amorphous phases in samples from Gale using CheMin and APXS data. If we find variations (e.g., a lack of or enrichment in amorphous silicate in some samples), this may imply a local source for some phases. Furthermore, the chemical composition of the weathering products may give insight into the formation mechanisms of the parent glass (e.g., impact glasses contain higher Al and lower Si [30], so we might expect allophane as a weathering product of impact glass). To address the question of whether these phases are separate or intimately mixed, we need to do laboratory studies of naturally altered samples made up of mixed phases (e.g., palagonite) and synthetic single phases to determine their short-range order structures and calculate their XRD patterns to use in models of CheMin data. Finally, to address the timing of the alteration, we need to study rocks on the martian surface of different ages that may contain glass (volcanic or impact) with MSL and future rovers to better understand how glass alters on the martian surface, if that alteration mechanism is universal, and if alteration spans across long periods of time or if there is a time past which unaltered glass remains.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Rampe, E. B.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Morris, R. V.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Ruff, S. W.
(Arizona State Univ. Tempe, AZ, United States)
Horgan, B.
(Purdue Univ. Indianapolis, IN, United States)
Dehouck, E.
(Stony Brook Univ. Stony Brook, NY, United States)
Achilles, C. N.
(Indiana Univ. Bloomington, IN, United States)
Ming, D. W.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Bish, D. L.
(Indiana Univ. Bloomington, IN, United States)
Chipera, S. J.
(Chesapeake Energy Corp. Oklahoma City, OK, United States)
Date Acquired
July 7, 2014
Publication Date
July 14, 2014
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: International Conference on Mars
Location: Pasadena, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: July 14, 2014
End Date: July 18, 2014
Sponsors: Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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