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Linking samples and remote data sets of Mars, Mercury, and the Moon

Monday, November 17, 2014

Using remote sensing to understand the geochemistry of a planetary surface requires proper laboratory spectral and compositional data to support the petrologic models.  Currently, gaps exist with respect to spectral data of ultramafic rocks and minerals.  In fact, foidites and feldspathoids may be present on Mars and other planets, but without the proper spectra in the library they would go undetected. Elemental data from Mercury also suggest magnesium-rich, carbonaceous, and/or elemental carbon-rich rocks may explain the difficult to constrain equatorial Mercury, but current spectral libraries do not contain data necessary to corroborate and further constrain the geologic interpretations garnered from MESSENGER (VIS-NIR) and future BepiColumbo (TIR) data sets. These types of rocks place important constraints on the petrologic history and mantle conditions that existed on the planet in the past.  Finally, radiative transfer models of Fe-, Ti-bearing glasses are based on a somewhat limited range of FeO and TiO2 contents. Therefore, spectra of synthetic glasses that are as rich in FeO and TiO2 as the Apollo glasses are needed to empirically improve radiative transfer modeling; a rethinking of modeling theory in UV and VIS wavelengths for FeO and TiO2–poor glasses also appears to be necessary. Indeed, models based on a full range of compositions would be applicable to a wide range of planetary bodies using a plethora of data available from NASA and ESA missions.

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