Water in the Martian Regolith from OMEGA/Mars Express

By Keith Cowing
July 17, 2014
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Water in the Martian Regolith from OMEGA/Mars Express

Here we discuss one of the current reservoirs of water on Mars, the regolith and rocks exposed at the surface.

This reservoir is characterized by the presence of H_{2}O- and OH- bearing phases that produce a broad absorption at a wavelength of \sim 3 \mu m in near-infrared (NIR) reflectance spectra. This absorption is present in every ice-free spectrum of the Martian surface obtained thus far by orbital NIR spectrometers. We present a quantitative analysis of the global distribution of the 3 \mu m absorption using the Observatoire pour la Min\’eralogie, l\’\Eau, les Glaces et l\’\Activit\’e (OMEGA) imaging spectrometer that has been mapping the surface of Mars at kilometer scale for more than ten years. Based on laboratory reflectance spectra of a wide range of hydrous minerals and phases, we estimate a model-dependent water content of 4\pm 1 wt. \% in the equatorial and mid-latitudes. Surface hydration increases with latitude, with an asymmetry in water content between the northern and southern hemispheres.

The surface hydration is compared to various parameters (albedo, dust, geological units, time, relative humidity, atmospheric water pressure, and in situ measurements performed by Phoenix and Curiosity) to constrain the nature of the reservoir. We conclude that the nature of the surface hydration of the Martian low latitudes is not adsorbed water but rather more tightly-bound water molecules and hydroxyl groups in the structure of the materials of the near-top surface. A frost-related process best explains the implementation of water into and onto the first microns of the high latitudes Martian regolith.

Joachim Audouard, François Poulet, Mathieu Vincendon, Ralph E. Milliken, Denis Jouglet, Jean-Pierre Bibring, Brigitte Gondet, Yves Langevin (Submitted on 9 Jul 2014)

Comments: 49 pages, 10 figures. Line spacing is 1.5 pt

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1407.2550 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1407.2550v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Joachim Audouard [v1] Wed, 9 Jul 2014 16:18:29 GMT (1904kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻