New insights into clay formation on Mars

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Mawrth Vallis (ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

News from Feb 06, 2018

A new study on the formation of phyllosilicate (clay) deposits on Mars with participation from our working group was published 5 February 2018 in the journal Nature Astronomy. Image data from the HRSC camera was used for investigations. The study seeks to understand the discrepancy between the observation of water-related features as clay deposits, valley networks and deltas on Mars, which require long-term warm and wet conditions, and today's cold and dry climate. Since clays are present in ancient, altered rocks on Mars, understanding their formation provides clues about the early Martian climate. With a novel geochamical model for early Mars the authors argue that short-term warm and wet environments can also enable clay formation during a generally cold early Mars. Clay deposits are found in many locations on Mars, but they are especially abundant in Nili Fossae and Mawrth Vallis, the latter being one out of two possible landing sites for ESA's ExoMars 2020 mission.

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