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Water on Mars: Evidence from MER Mission ResultsThe Viking and the Mars Exploration Rover missions observed that the surface of Mars is encrusted by a thinly cemented layer, or "duricrust". Elemental analyzes at five sites on Mars show that these soils have sulfur content and chlorine content consistent with the presence of sulfates and halides as mineral cements. The soil is highly enriched in the salt-forming elements compared with rock. Analysis of the soil cementation indicates some features which may be evidence of liquid water. At both MER sites, duricrust textures revealed by the Microscopic Imager show features including the presence of fine sand-sized grains, some of which may be aggregates of fine silt and clay, surrounded by a pervasive light colored material that is associated with microtubular structures and networks of microfractures. Stereo views of undisturbed duricrust surfaces reveal rugged microrelief between 2-3 mm and minimal loose material. Comparisons of microscopic images of duricrust soils obtain before and after placement of the Mossbauer spectrometer indicate differing degrees of compaction and cementation. Two models of a transient water hypothesis are offered, a "top down" hypothesis that emphasizes the surface deposition of frost, melting and downward migration of liquid water and a "bottom up" alternative that proposes the presence of interstitial ice/brine, with the upward capillary migration of liquid water. The viability of both of these models ultimately hinges on the availability of seasonally transient liquid water for brief periods.
Document ID
20050203800
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Landis, Geoffrey A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Meeting Information
55th International Astronautical Congress(Vancouver)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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