Mafic and Ultramafic Rock Samples from Mars Analog Sites in Samail, Oman Using the Ultra- Compact Imaging Spectrometer (UCIS)

Cecilia B. Sanders, JPLSIP Student, Harvard College ‘16
Bethany Ehlmann, R. Glenn Sellar, JPLSIP Mentors
Harvard University Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


The Ultra-Compact Imaging Spectrometer (UCIS) is a hyperspectral instrument that will enable Mars 2020 or future missions of planetary exploration, to determine the mineral fabric and composition of rock samples. In this investiga- tion, UCIS was used in a micro-imaging configuration in a laboratory environment to image the reflectance spectra of solid rock samples in the visible through near-infrared wavelengths (0.50 to 2.50 µm). These data were used both to evaluate the capabilities of UCIS at the micro-scale and to analyze the spectral and mineralogical diversity of rocks from Mars-analog sites. The primary site of interest for this investigation was the Samail Ophiolite in Oman, where subsurface serpentinization and subsurface/subaerial carbonate deposition mimic some of the processes occurring on Noachian Mars. Data were processed with the IDL-based image analysis software ENVI to generate detailed parameter maps dis- tinguishing carbonate and serpentine minerals in varying modes of aqueous alteration. Close inspection of these maps yielded new spectral parameters, including the strength of absorption bands at 1.39, 1.90, 2.12, and 2.34 µm, continuum shapes including slopes about 1.08 µm, and shifts in absorption position, which reliably identify and map serpentines and carbonates with distinct cation contents, water contents, and their textural relationships.

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