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  • Cited by 7
  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: December 2009

8 - Visible to near-IR multispectral orbital observations of Mars

from Part III - Mineralogy and Remote Sensing of Rocks, Soil, Dust, and Ices
    • By J. F. Bell, Cornell University, Department of Astronomy, 402 Space Sciences Building, Ithaca, NY 14853-6801, USA, T. D. Glotch, Department of Geosciences, SUNY at Stony Brook Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA, V. E. Hamilton, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics & Planetology, University of Hawaii, 1680 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA, T. McConnochie, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Mailstop 693.0 Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA, T. McCord, Space Science Institute 4750 Walnut Street, Suite 205 Boulder, Colorado 80301, USA, A. McEwen, Lunar & Planetary Laboratory University of Arizona, 1541 E. University Blvd. Tuscon, AZ 85721-0063, USA, P. R. Christensen, Planetary Exploration Laboratory Arizona State University Moeur Building 110D Tempe, AZ 85287, USA, R. E. Arvidson, Earth & Planetary Science, Washington University St Louis, MO 63130, USA
  • Edited by Jim Bell, Cornell University, New York
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • DOI:
  • pp 169-192



This chapter reviews observations and interpretations since the 1990s from orbital telescopic and spacecraft observations of Mars from the extended visible to short-wave near-IR (VNIR) wavelength range. Imaging and spectroscopic measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Wide Angle (MGS MOC/WA) instrument, Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System Visible Subsystem (THEMIS-VIS), and Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera (MEx HRSC) and Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité (OMEGA) have been acquired at spatial scales from global-scale ∼ 1 to hundreds of kilometers resolution to regional-scale ∼ 20–100 m resolution. Most high-albedo regions are homogeneous in color and thus, likely, composition, a supposition consistent with the long-held idea of the presence of a globally homogeneous aeolian dust unit covering much of the surface. Despite the presence and ubiquity of dust, these measurements still reveal the presence of significant VNIR spectral variability at a variety of spatial scales. For example, color variations and possibly mineralogic variations have been detected among small-scale (tens of meters) exposures of light-toned outcrop and layered materials in Meridiani Planum, Valles Marineris, and other areas. Within low-albedo regions, much of the observed color variability appears simply related to different amounts of covering or coating by nanophase ferric oxide-bearing dust and/or ferrous silicate-bearing sand. Some VNIR color units, however, in regions spanning the full range of observed surface albedos, correlate with geologic, topographic, or thermal inertia boundaries, suggesting that either composition/mineralogy or variations in physical properties (e.g., grain size, roughness, packing density) influence the observed color.

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