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Mafic Minerals in Western Arabia Terra
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Mafic Minerals in Western Arabia Terra

Acquired Date: December 10, 2006
Release Date: February 28, 2014
Latitude: 7.83 N
Longitude: 6.89 W
Keywords: Crater Interior/Rim/Ejecta, Mafic minerals, Dichotomy Boundary
Parameters: HCPINDEX2 (High-Calcium Pyroxene), LCPINDEX2 (Low-Calcium Pyroxene), OLINDEX3 (Olivine)

The Arabia Terra region of Mars is an ancient, very heavily cratered region about 5,100 kilometers (3,170 miles) across, roughly the length of the United States! Arabia contains some of the oldest rocks on Mars. It is one of two very large regions – the other being the Tharsis volcanic plateau – that is almost completely covered in accumulations of windblown dust. However the wind and gravity-driven processes on slopes can also strip the dust away. This image shows an exposure of the underlying igneous rock forming Arabia, containing mafic (magnesium- and iron-rich) minerals that make up most of Mars’ crust. The blue coloring shows a mineral called pyroxene, the dominant silicate mineral in most Martian igneous rocks.



The Arabia Terra region of Mars is an ancient, very heavily cratered region about 5,100 kilometers (3,170 miles) across, roughly the length of the United States! Arabia contains some of the oldest rocks on Mars. It is one of two very large regions – the other being the Tharsis volcanic plateau – that is almost completely covered in accumulations of windblown dust. However the wind and gravity-driven processes on slopes can also strip the dust away. This image shows an exposure of the underlying igneous rock forming Arabia, containing mafic (magnesium- and iron-rich) minerals that make up most of Mars’ crust. The blue coloring shows a mineral called pyroxene, the dominant silicate mineral in most Martian igneous rocks.

Compared with Moon, Mars’ crust is much more dominated by dark-colored basaltic rocks rich in pyroxene. The light-colored, aluminum-rich rock types forming the lunar highlands occur in only a few places on Mars. On the flip side, the mineral olivine is more commonly found on Mars than on the Moon.

Link to further description of the spectral parameters shown in this image can be found here.

Disclaimer: Colors shown here represent indicators of mineralogy and are not what the human eye would see.

Acknowledgements: THEMIS, MOLA, CRISM, Google Earth.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) is one of six science instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Led by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the CRISM team includes expertise from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad.

CRISM's mission: Find the spectral fingerprints of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. The instrument also tracks seasonal variations in dust and ice aerosols in the Martian atmosphere, and water content in surface materials — leading to new understanding of the climate.

Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

   

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