[meteorite-list] Top 25 TES Science Results From Mars Global Surveyor

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:48:10 2004
Message-ID: <200110041532.IAA20053_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

TES is both an instrument and a technique. The Thermal Emission
Spectrometer is a scientific instrument that first flew aboard the
Mars Observer spacecraft. Following the loss of that spacecraft,
TES was rebuilt and launched along with five of the original seven
Mars Observer instruments aboard the new Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.
The purpose of TES is to measure the thermal infrared energy (heat)
emitted from Mars. This technique, called thermal emission spectroscopy,
can tell us much about the geology and atmosphere of Mars. TES data
will provide the first detailed look at the composition of Mars.



Top 25 TES Science Results

TES science results generally fall into one of four categories: surface
mineralogy, polar processes, atmospheric processes, and thermophysical
properties of the surface.


     Key surface mineralogy results include:

  1. The mineralogy of volcanic materials varies from basaltic, composed of
     plagioclase, feldspar, clinopyroxene, olivine, plus/minus sheet
     silicates, to andesitic, dominated by plagioclase feldspar and
     high-silica volcanic glass. The basalts occur primarily in the ancient,
     southern hemisphere highlands, and the andesites occur primarily in the
     younger northern plains.

  2. The spectra from dark regions closely match both the spectral shape and
     contrast of particulate samples of terrestrial rocks.

  3. No unusual particle size or other environmental effects are observed,
     nor are required, to account for the spectra observed for Mars.

  4. Aqueous mineralization has occurred in limited regions under ambient or
     hydrothermal conditions. Gray, crystalline hematite is found in three
     locations that are interpreted to be in-place sedimentary rock
     formations. These units provide evidence for the long-term stability of
     liquid water near the surface of Mars.

  5. No evidence for carbonates has been found. Arguments can be made for
     the failure to detect these minerals, but we can conclude that
     large-scale (10's of km), coarse-grained (>50 micron) deposits of >~10%
     carbonates are not currently exposed at the martian surface. This lack
     of detection is consistent with many models for early Mars in which
     large volumes of carbonates never formed.

  6. Olivine has been identified and mapped in specific locations in the
     basaltic terrains at abundances up to 15-20%.

  7. Unweathered volcanic minerals (pyroxene, feldspar, and minor olivine)
     dominate the spectral properties of martian dark regions. Conversely,
     no evidence has been found for weathering products above the TES
     detection limit. This lack of evidence for chemical weathering of the
     martian surface indicates a geologic history dominated by a cold, dry
     climate in which mechanical weathering was the dominant form of

  8. The composition of "White Rock" appears to match that of typical
     martian dust. Many other unique surfaces remain to be investigated.

     Key polar conclusions include:

  9. CO2 condensation occurs in three forms, fine-grained, coarse grained,
     and slab ice; the form can change in a few days. Most condensation
     occurs at the surface, not in the atmosphere. Slab ice is the prevalent
     form in the outer regions of the forming cap, and persists untiil
     shortly after seasonal sunrise.

 10. The interiors of the seasonal caps are characterized by spatially
     nonuniform behaviour, with several small, unique regions. comparisons
     with Viking observations indicate little difference in the seasonal
     cycle 12 martian years later. the observed radiation balance indicates
     CO2 sublimation budgets of up to 1250 kg m-2.

 11. For most of the seasonal cap, while kinetic temperatures remain near
     the CO2 frost point, albedos increase slowly with the rise of the Sun,
     then drop rapidly as the frost becomes patchy and disappears over a
     period of ~20 days.

 12. A "Cryptic" region in the south cap remains dark and mottled throughout
     its cold period. TES spectra indicate that the Cryptic region has much
     larger grained solid CO2 than the rest of the cap and that the solid
     CO2 here may be in the form of a slab. Although CO2 grain size may be
     the major difference between different regions, incorporated dust is
     also required to match the observations.

 13. The Mountians of Mitchel remain cold and bright well after other areas
     at comparable latitude, apparently as a result of unusually small-sized
     CO2 frost grains.

 14. Regional atmospheric dust is common; localized dust clouds are seen
     near the edge of the cap prior to the onset of a regional dust storm
     and interior to the cap during the storm.

     Key atmospheric science results include:

 15. The life cycle of five regional dust storms has been observed. These
     storms have significant impact on the atmospheric temperature
     structure, increasing the temperature by up to 15 K to several scale

 16. Direct heating of the atmosphere in one hemisphere can lead to an
     intensification of the Hadley cell circulation and produce a
     similar-scale heating of the atmosphere in the opposite hemisphere
     almost instantaneously.

 17. The occurrence of water-ice clouds is highly sensitive to atmospheric
     temperatures, and heating by dust virtually removes water-ice clouds
     from a large portion of the planet for months.

 18. Water-ice clouds have a seasonal cycle as distinctive as the dust
     seasonal cycle. In aphelion (northern summer) season, an equatorial
     cloud belt is observed between 10 degrees south and 30 degrees north,
     where upward motion of the Hadley circulation is expected. at all
     seasons (except during regional dust storms) clouds are common near
     large topography (Tharsis, Alba Patera, and Elysium).

 19. The thermal structure of the atmosphere is observed to warm and cool
     according to season and distance from the Sun. Maximum atmospheric
     temperatures are found at the south pole at southern hemisphere

 20. The Hadley circulation changes from a (nearly) symetrical two-cell
     configuration at equinox to one cross-equatorial cell at solstice.

 21. At solstice the steep temperature gradient between the descending
     branch of the hadley cell and the polar night produces a strong
     eastward jet of winds or polar vortext with velocities approaching 160
     m s-1.

 22. waves are common throughout the atmosphere and are especially strong in
     the winter mid-latitudes. zonal wavenumber 2 dominates at lower
     altitudes while zonal wavenumber 1 becomes stronger at higher

     Key surface physical property results include:

 23. A third inertia-albedo mode, corresponding to intermediate inertia and
     albedo values, has been identified using high-resolution albedo and
     temperature TES data. This distinct unit is separate from the
     low-inertia/bright, and high-inertia/dark regions discovered
     previously. It may consist of a bonded, duricrust unit.

 24. Localized regions of high inertia (greater than 800 J-m-2-K-1-s-1/2)
     are identified in TES data. These low-lying surfaces, e.g., channel and
     crater floors, may have formed by a combination of aeolian, fluvial, or
     erosional processes, or may be exposed bedrock.

 25. More results arriving soon...
Received on Thu 04 Oct 2001 11:32:19 AM PDT

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