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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 by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF