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Derivation of the midinfrared (5.0-25.0 micron) optical constants of hydrous carbonate and sulfateThere is ample theoretical and observational evidence suggesting liquid water was once stable at the surface of Mars. Because water is essential to the evolution of life, it is important to understand the types of environments in which the liquid water was present. For example, if water were present early in Mars' history, then this raises the possibility that biological activity may have evolved only to eventually become extinct as liquid water became scarce. Alternatively, if liquid water were stable only later in Mars' history, then it becomes problematic to envision mechanisms by which biological activity evolved and remained viable without water until more favorable conditions existed. Even without biological activity, atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolved in water can assist the chemical weathering of primary igneous minerals producing common secondary phases such as hydartes, carbonates, and sulfates. While the identification of hydrates, carbonates, and sulfates on Mars cannot provide direct evidence of biological activity, it can provide significant information regarding the presence and duration of an environment that would support the presence of liquid water at the surface. The specific mineralogy of these secondary phases can provide insight into the environments of their formation. For example, the slow precipitation that occurs in large standing bodies of water, e.g. oceans or lakes, commonly results in the formation of calcite, magnesite, dolomite, siderite, and rhodochrosite. Rapid precipitation that occurs in ephemeral bodies of water, e.g. hypersaline lakes or playas, can result in the formation of all of the above phases as well as aragonite, vaterite, hydrated carbonates, alkali carbonates, bicarbonates, and other poorly ordered phases. Absorption features identified in recent near-infrared spectra of Mars have been interpreted as being due to bicarbonate and bisulfate located in the mineral scaplite. Spectral data returned by the Mariner 6 and 7 spacecraft have been inerpreted as remaining consistent with the presence of hydrated carbonates. Additional, airborne thermal infrared spectra of Mars have been interpreted as implying the presence of carbonates, sulfates, and hydrates. Modeling of the thermal infrared data relied upon the optical constants of calcite anhydrite and a mixture of water in basalt because of their availability. The derived abundances of carbonate and sulfate were 1-3 percent and 10-15 percent by volume. However, the observed complexity and positions of the bands suggested other carbonate-, and sulfate-bearing species. We have already derived optical constants for hydrous and anhydrous silicates, and we are now applying these techniques to the derivation of the optical constants of hydrous carbonate and sulfate.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Roush, Ted L.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Orenberg, James B.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Pollack, James B.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Twenty-Fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 3: N-Z
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 199-70-22-11
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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