Wendy Calvin

Arthur Brant Lab for Exploration Geophysics
Univ. Nevada, Reno


"Mars Aqueous Mineralogy and the KittyHawk Scout Mission"

The history of water on Mars is the unifying thread that binds the present goals of understanding the evolution of life, climate and chronology of the planet. The surface geomorphology of Mars has a long indicated the presence of fluvial features including large outflow channels, streamlined islands, and branching valley networks. Many of the largest outflow channels emerge from chaotic terrain and depressions surrounding the large canyon system, the Valles Marineris. In spite of photogeologic evidence of the past action of water, alteration mineral products resulting from the interaction of rock and water have been absent from the Martian spectral record. Recent observations by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft have identified hematite, interpreted to be an aqueous mineral precipitate. This hematite outcrops in a few spatially isolated locations, one of which is Candor Chasma in the Valles Marineris. In addition, the Mars Observer Camera, has shown that the layers exposed in the walls of the Valles Marineris canyon are much finer scale (a few meters) than previously believed. I will discuss these recent results and how the KittyHawk mission hopes to shed light on competing theories for the origin of the canyon layers and enigmatic interior deposits.