October 14, 2014

Sulfates in the north polar region of Mars detected by OMEGA/Mars express

Langevin Y., Poulet F., Bibring J.-P., Gondet B.

Summary: The Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces, et l'Activité (OMEGA) imaging spectrometer observed the northern circumpolar regions of Mars at a resolution of a few kilometers. An extended region at 240°E, 85°N, with an area of 60 kilometers by 200 kilometers, exhibits absorptions at wavelengths of 1.45, 1.75, 1.94, 2.22, 2.26, and 2.48 micrometers. These signatures can be unambiguously attributed to calcium-rich sulfates, most likely gypsum. This region corresponds to the dark longitudinal dunes of Olympia Planitia. These observations reveal that water alteration played a major role in the formation of the constituting minerals of northern circumpolar terrains.