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Identification of a new spectral signature at 3 µm over Martian northern high latitudes: implications for surface composition

Abstract : Mars northern polar latitudes are known to harbor an enhanced 3 µm spectral signature when observed from orbit. This may indicate a greater amount of surface adsorbed or bound water, although it has not yet been possible to easily reconcile orbital observations with ground measurements by Phoenix. Here we reprocessed OMEGA/Mars Express observations acquired during the Northern summer to further characterize this 3 µm absorption band increase. We identify the presence of a new specific spectral signature composed of an additional narrow absorption feature centered at 3.03 µm coupled with an absorption at ≥ 3.8 µm. This signature is homogeneously distributed over a bright albedo open ring surrounding the circumpolar low-albedo terrains between ∼ 68°N and 76°N and ∼ 0°E and 270°E. This location includes the Phoenix landing site. This feature shows no time variability and can be confidently attributed to a seasonally stable surface component. All together, the stability, spectral shape and absence of significant correlation with other signatures in the 1-2.5 µm range discard interpretations relying on water ice or easily exchangeable adsorbed water. The exact full spectral shape cannot be easily reproduced by pure minerals samples, although sulfates, notably lowly hydrated Ca-sulfates, provide interesting comparisons. A modification of the chemical or physical properties of the soil, potentially involving additional sulfates contaminants, or modification of the hydration state of sulfates, and/or modification of their grains size, seems a plausible explanation to this observation, which may then indicate geologically recent water alteration at high northern latitudes.
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Contributor : Catherine Cardon Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, April 26, 2021 - 6:33:59 PM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 12:00:28 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - 7:39:40 PM


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Aurélien Stcherbinine, Mathieu Vincendon, Franck Montmessin, Pierre Beck. Identification of a new spectral signature at 3 µm over Martian northern high latitudes: implications for surface composition. Icarus, Elsevier, 2021, 369 (15 November), pp.114627. ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2021.114627⟩. ⟨insu-03208764⟩



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