Temporal observations of bright soil exposures at Gusev crater, Mars

M. S. Rice, J. F. Bell, E. A. Cloutis, J. J. Wray, K. E. Herkenhoff, R. Sullivan, J. R. Johnson, R. B. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has discovered bright soil deposits in its wheel tracks that previously have been confirmed to contain ferric sulfates and/or opaline silica. Repeated Pancam multispectral observations have been acquired at four of these deposits to monitor spectral and textural changes over time during exposure to Martian surface conditions. Previous studies suggested that temporal spectral changes occur because of mineralogic changes (e.g., phase transitions accompanying dehydration). In this study, we present a multispectral and temporal analysis of eight Pancam image sequences at the Tyrone exposure, three at the Gertrude Weise exposure, two at the Kit Carson exposure, and ten at the Ulysses exposure that have been acquired as of sol 2132 (1 January 2010). We compare observed variations in Pancam data to spectral changes predicted by laboratory experiments for the dehydration of ferric sulfates. We also present a spectral analysis of repeated Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE observations spanning 32 sols and a textural analysis of Spirit Microscopic Imager observations of Ulysses spanning 102 sols. At all bright soil exposures, we observe no statistically significant spectral changes with time that are uniquely diagnostic of dehydration and/or mineralogic phase changes. However, at Kit Carson and Ulysses, we observe significant textural changes, including slumping within the wheel trench, movement of individual grains, disappearance of fines, and dispersal of soil clods. All observed textural changes are consistent with aeolian sorting and/or minor amounts of air fall dust deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE00F14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Temporal observations of bright soil exposures at Gusev crater, Mars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this