Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 December 2009
The Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) on Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mapped the surface, atmosphere, and polar caps of Mars from 1997 through 2006. TES provided the first global mineral maps of Mars, and showed that the surface is dominated by primary volcanic minerals (plagioclase feldspar, pyroxene, and olivine) along with high-silica, poorly crystalline materials. Differences in the abundances of these minerals were initially grouped into two broad compositional categories that correspond to basalt and basaltic andesite. Additional analysis has identified four surface compositional groups that are spatially coherent, revealing variations in the composition of the primary crust-forming magmas through time. In general, plagioclase, high-Ca clinopyroxene, and high-silica phases are the dominant mineral groups for most regions, with lesser amounts of orthopyroxene, olivine, and pigeonite. One of the fundamental results from the TES investigation was the identification of several large deposits of crystalline hematite, including those in Meridiani Planum, that were interpreted to indicate the presence of liquid water for extended periods of time. This interpretation led to the selection of Meridiani as the target for the Opportunity rover, the first time that a planetary landing site was selected on the basis of mineralogic information. Aqueous weathering may have formed some of the high-silica phases seen in TES spectra at high latitudes, and the Mars Express Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité (OMEGA) spectrometer has detected phyllosilicates and sulfates, typically formed by aqueous weathering and deposition, in several locations.