This unique atlas comprises a series of maps showing the distribution and abundance of minerals formed in water, by volcanic activity, and by weathering to create the dust that makes Mars red. Together the maps provide a global context for the dominant geological processes that have defined the planet’s history.
The maps were built from ten years of data collected by the OMEGA visible and infrared mineralogical mapping spectrometer on Mars Express.
The animation cycles through maps showing: individual sites where a range of minerals that can only be formed in the presence of water were detected; maps of olivine and pyroxene, minerals that tell the story of volcanism and the evolution of the planet’s interior; and ferric oxide and dust. Ferric oxide is a mineral phase of iron, and is present everywhere on the planet: within the bulk crust, lava outflows and the dust oxidized by chemical reactions with the Martian atmosphere, causing the surface to ‘rust’ slowly over billions of years, giving Mars its distinctive red hue.
The map showing hydrated minerals includes detections made by both ESA’s Mars Express and by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Video credit: Hydrated mineral map: ESA/CNES/CNRS/IAS/Université Paris-Sud, Orsay; NASA/JPL/JHUAPL; Olivine, pyroxone, ferric dust & dust maps: ESA/CNES/CNRS/IAS/Université Paris-Sud, Orsay Orsay; Video production: ESA.