October 14, 2014

Coordinated analyses of orbital and spirit rover data to characterize surface materials on the cratered plains of Gusev Crater, Mars

Lichtenberg K.A., Arvidson R.E., Poulet F., Morris R.V., Knudson A., Bell J.F., Bellucci G., Bibring J.-P., Farrand W.H., Johnson J.R., Ming D.W., Pinet P.C., Rogers A.D., Squyres S.W.
Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets

Summary: Comparison of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's Pancam (0.4 to 1.0 µm) and Mars Express Observatoire pour la Minéralogie l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité (OMEGA) (0.4 to 2.5 µm) spectral reflectance data over Spirit's traverses shows that Gusev cratered plains are dominated by nanophase ferric-oxide-rich dust covering weakly altered basaltic sands. This interpretation is also consistent with both observations from OMEGA data covering plains beyond the traverse region and interpretations of data from the other payload instruments on the Spirit Rover. OMEGA observations of relatively low albedo regions where dust has presumably been stripped by dust devils show negative spectral reflectance slopes from 1.5 to 2.5 µm and moderately masked spectral features which are indicative of olivine or pyroxene. High-albedo regions north and south of the Spirit landing site have flat spectral reflectance slopes and few spectral features, although all spectra have a nanophase ferric-oxide absorption edge between 0.4 and 0.75 µm. Comparison of THEMIS-derived thermal inertia values with OMEGA-derived spectral parameters shows that although the dust cover can be optically thick (0.4 to 2.5 µm wavelength region) in some areas, it is not thick enough (~1 cm) to mask the thermal inertia of the underlying substrate for areas included in this study. © 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.