Description: The Odyssey spacecraft documented the existence of heterogeneously distributed hydrogen at martian mid-latitudes, suggesting that large areas of the near-equatorial highlands contain near-surface deposits of 'chemically and/or physically bound H20 and/or OH' in amounts up to 3 .8% equivalent H20. Shallow occurrences of water ice are not stable near the martian equator, making the hydrogen deposits at these latitudes somewhat enigmatic. Clay minerals and zeolites have both been proposed as possible water-bearing constituents on Mars, and both are common terrestrial alteration products of hydrovolcanic basaltic ashes and palagonitic material comparable to those that may be widespread on Mars. Smectites within martian meteorites, attributed to hydrous alteration on Mars rather than on Earth, provide direct evidence of clay minerals from Mars. In addition, new thermal emission spectrometer (TES) data provide good evidence for unspecified zeolites in martian surface dust  . The nature of the hydrogen-containing material observed in the equatorial martian regolith is of particular importance to the question of whether hydrous minerals have formed in the past on Mars. Also, whether these minerals exist in a hydrated (i .e., containing H2O molecules in their structures) or dehydrated state is a crucial question . The existence of hydrous minerals is also important in connection with their possible role in affecting the diurnal variation of the martian atmosphere, in their potential role in unraveling the paleohydrology and paleobiology of Mars, and in their possible use as a water resource to support exploration of the martian mid-latitudes.
Date: January 1, 2003
Creator: Bish, D. L. (David L.); Carey, J. W. (James W.) & Fialips, C. I. (Clair I.)
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Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department