October 14, 2014

Quantitative compositional analysis of martian mafic regions using the MEx/OMEGA reflectance data 1. Methodology, uncertainties and examples of application

Poulet et Al.
Icarus, Volume 201, Issue 1, p. 69-83

Summary: The Mars Express Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité (OMEGA) collected an unprecedented visible and near-infrared hyperspectral dataset covering the low albedo regions of Mars. We investigate the ability to infer modal abundance of surfaces of these regions from a radiative transfer model developed by Shkuratov et al. [Shkuratov, Y., Starukhina, L., Hoffmann, H., Arnold, G., 1999. Icarus 137, 235–246] and adapted to basaltic surfaces by Poulet and Erard [Poulet F., Erard, S., 2004. J. Geophys. Res. 109 (E2), doi:10.1029/2003JE002179]. From OMEGA measurements of mafic surfaces, we develop several sensitivity tests to assess the extent to which the model can be applied to predict pyroxene composition (high-calcium phase and low-calcium phase), abundance of almost neutral components (plagioclase) in the near-infrared wavelength as well as grain sizes, by using a library of selected end-members. Results of the sensitivity tests indicate that the scattering model can estimate both abundances and grain sizes of major basaltic materials of low albedo regions within uncertainties (±5 to 15 vol%). The model is then applied to data from dissected cratered terrains located in Terra Meridiani. The derived grain size including uncertainties is in the 50–-500 µm range. This is consistent with the thermal inertia and albedo of this region, which indicates a fine sand-sized surface with little dust. The abundances of plagioclase (43–-57%) and pyroxenes (35–-45±10%, including 11±5% of low-calcium phase) are in good agreement with previous basalt-like compositions of low albedo regions from thermal infrared spectral measurements. The method presented in this paper will provide a valuable tool for evaluating the modal mineralogy of other mafic regions of Mars observed in the near-infrared wavelength range.