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This graphic shows Mars Global Surveyor detecting pyroxene.
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Courtesy of NASA.

Mars Global Surveyor Measures Pyroxene

Mars Global Surveyor made a measurement of pyroxene on the surface of Mars. Scientists looking at results from the Mars Pathfinder Rover's study of the rocks of Mars could not find evidence of pyroxene at all. Pyroxene is an important silicate mineral, and is part of the evolution of silicate rocks on Earth. If Mars could not manufacture pyroxene the way the Earth does, that would suggest that Mars and the Earth evolved differently.

This graph shows a strong indication of the presence of pyroxene in the surface minerals of Mars, however. The graph rises every time the spacecraft finds pyroxene on the surface. The finding of pyroxene will help scientists figure out how the crust of Mars evolved.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA