Morphological and Spectral Diversity of the Clay-Bearing Unit at the ExoMars Landing Site Oxia Planum

Mandon, Lucia; Parkes Bowen, Adam; Quantin-Nataf, Cathy; Bridges, John C.; Carter, John; Pan, Lu; Beck, Pierre; Dehouck, Erwin; Volat, Matthieu; Thomas, Nicolas; Cremonese, Gabriele; Tornabene, Livio Leonardo; Thollot, Patrick (2021). Morphological and Spectral Diversity of the Clay-Bearing Unit at the ExoMars Landing Site Oxia Planum. Astrobiology, 21(4), pp. 464-480. Mary Ann Liebert 10.1089/ast.2020.2292

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The European Space Agency and Roscosmos’ ExoMars rover mission, which is planned to land in the Oxia Planum region, will be dedicated to exobiology studies at the surface and subsurface of Mars. Oxia Planum is a clay-bearing site that has preserved evidence of long-term interaction with water during the Noachian era. Fe/Mg-rich phyllosilicates have previously been shown to occur extensively throughout the landing area. Here, we analyze data from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instruments onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter to characterize, at a high spatial resolution, the morphological and spectral variability of Oxia Planum’s surface deposits. Two main types of bedrocks are identified within the clay-bearing, fractured unit observed throughout the landing site: (1) an orange type in HiRISE correlated with the strongest detections of secondary minerals (dominated by Fe/Mg-rich clay minerals) with, in some locations, an additional spectral absorption near 2.5 mm, suggesting the mixture with an additional mineral, plausibly carbonate or another type of clay mineral; (2) a more bluish bedrock associated with weaker detections of secondary minerals, which exhibits at certain locations a *1 mm broad absorption feature consistent with olivine. Coanalysis of the same terrains with the recently acquired CaSSIS images confirms the variability in the color and spectral properties of the fractured unit. Of interest for the ExoMars mission, both types of bedrocks are extensively outcropping in the Oxia Planum region, and the one corresponding to the most intense spectral signals of clay minerals (the primary scientific target) is well exposed within the landing area, including near its center.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > NCCR PlanetS

UniBE Contributor:

Thomas, Nicolas


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




Mary Ann Liebert




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

09 Jun 2021 15:34

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 15:34

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Mars — Landing site — Geology — Spectroscopy




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