Phyllosilicates have been identified on the Martian surface from orbit, and are hypothesized to have formed under wet, non-acidic conditions early in the planet's history. Exposures of these minerals have not yet been examined by a landed mission. Using Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data, we report the detection of phyllosilicate-bearing outcrops that may be accessible by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity currently exploring Meridiani Planum. The phyllosilicates are associated with layered, polygonally fractured rocks exposed in the rim of the 20 km diameter crater Endeavour. These rocks may have formed via regional or global-scale processes of aqueous alteration that predated the period of acid sulfate formation recorded in the rocks that Opportunity has studied to date. Detailed characterization by Opportunity could better constrain the conditions under which these phyllosilicates formed. Hydrated sulfates are also detected from orbit in the plains adjacent to Endeavour's rim, providing the first opportunity for ground truth of these detections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)