Microscopy analysis of soils at the Phoenix landing site, Mars

Classification of soil particles and description of their optical and magnetic properties

W. Goetz, W. T. Pike, S. F. Hviid, M. B. Madsen, R. V. Morris, M. H. Hecht, U. Staufer, K. Leer, H. Sykulska, E. Hemmig, J. Marshall, J. M. Morookian, D. Parrat, S. Vijendran, B. J. Bos, M. R. El Maarry, H. U. Keller, R. Kramm, W. J. Markiewicz, L. Drube & 8 others D. Blaney, R. E. Arvidson, J. F. Bell, R. Reynolds, Peter Smith, P. Woida, R. Woida, R. Tanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The optical microscope onboard the Phoenix spacecraft has returned color images (4 μm pixel-1) of soils that were delivered to and held on various substrates. A preliminary taxonomy of Phoenix soil particles, based on color, size, and shape, identifies the following particle types [generic names in brackets]: (1) reddish fines, mostly unresolved, that are spectrally similar to (though slightly darker than) global airborne dust [red fines], (2) silt- to sand-sized brownish grains [brown sand], (3) silt- to sand-sized black grains [black sand], and (4) small amounts of whitish fines, possibly salts [white fines]. Most particles have a saturation magnetization in the range 0.5-2 Am2 kg-1 as inferred from their interaction with magnetic substrates. The particle size distribution has two distinct peaks below 10 μm (fines) and in the range 20-100 μm (grains), respectively, and is different from that of ripple soils in Gusev crater. In particular medium to large sand grains appear to be absent in Phoenix soils. Most sand grains have subrounded shape with variable texture. A fractured grain (observed on sol 112) reveals evidence of micrometer-sized crystal facets. The brown sand category displays a large diversity in color including shiny, almost colorless particles. Potential source regions for these grains may be the Tharsis volcanoes or Heimdal crater (20 km east of the landing site). The black grains are suggested to belong to a more widespread population of particles with mafic mineralogy. The absence of black/brown composite grains is consistent with different formation pathways and source regions for each grain type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE00E22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume115
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

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Mars landing sites
Phoenix (AZ)
magnetic property
Landing
optical property
Mars
microscopy
soils
Magnetic properties
Microscopic examination
Optical properties
magnetic properties
Soils
fines
optical properties
sands
sand
Sand
soil
crater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Microscopy analysis of soils at the Phoenix landing site, Mars : Classification of soil particles and description of their optical and magnetic properties. / Goetz, W.; Pike, W. T.; Hviid, S. F.; Madsen, M. B.; Morris, R. V.; Hecht, M. H.; Staufer, U.; Leer, K.; Sykulska, H.; Hemmig, E.; Marshall, J.; Morookian, J. M.; Parrat, D.; Vijendran, S.; Bos, B. J.; El Maarry, M. R.; Keller, H. U.; Kramm, R.; Markiewicz, W. J.; Drube, L.; Blaney, D.; Arvidson, R. E.; Bell, J. F.; Reynolds, R.; Smith, Peter; Woida, P.; Woida, R.; Tanner, R.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol. 115, No. 8, E00E22, 2010.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Goetz, W, Pike, WT, Hviid, SF, Madsen, MB, Morris, RV, Hecht, MH, Staufer, U, Leer, K, Sykulska, H, Hemmig, E, Marshall, J, Morookian, JM, Parrat, D, Vijendran, S, Bos, BJ, El Maarry, MR, Keller, HU, Kramm, R, Markiewicz, WJ, Drube, L, Blaney, D, Arvidson, RE, Bell, JF, Reynolds, R, Smith, P, Woida, P, Woida, R & Tanner, R 2010, 'Microscopy analysis of soils at the Phoenix landing site, Mars: Classification of soil particles and description of their optical and magnetic properties', Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, vol. 115, no. 8, E00E22. https://doi.org/10.1029/2009JE003437
Goetz, W. ; Pike, W. T. ; Hviid, S. F. ; Madsen, M. B. ; Morris, R. V. ; Hecht, M. H. ; Staufer, U. ; Leer, K. ; Sykulska, H. ; Hemmig, E. ; Marshall, J. ; Morookian, J. M. ; Parrat, D. ; Vijendran, S. ; Bos, B. J. ; El Maarry, M. R. ; Keller, H. U. ; Kramm, R. ; Markiewicz, W. J. ; Drube, L. ; Blaney, D. ; Arvidson, R. E. ; Bell, J. F. ; Reynolds, R. ; Smith, Peter ; Woida, P. ; Woida, R. ; Tanner, R. / Microscopy analysis of soils at the Phoenix landing site, Mars : Classification of soil particles and description of their optical and magnetic properties. In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. 2010 ; Vol. 115, No. 8.
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