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This image shows some of the soils of Mars.
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Courtesy JPL/NASA

MPF Soil Results

Soils found by the Rover do not seem to be derived from the rocks at the Pathfinder landing site. They do not seem to be the weathering products of the eroded rock nearby. Scientists did not find evidence of well formed, crystalline hematite - an iron bearing mineral, nor pyroxene, nor frost covered soils, although pyroxene was subsequently measured by Mars Global Surveyor. There was barely evidence for the presence of maghemite and goertite - more iron bearing minerals near the landing site. Mars is expected to have more iron in the top soil (hematite and maghemite are magnetic materials), since the core is small, and the magnetic field, generated in the interior, is weak. Scientists are busy trying to understand this puzzling result.

All of the soils seem to be similar chemically, being 18% Fe2O3 and the remainder being something else. Soils seem to have a composition similar to only one rock at the site, that of the rock Scooby Doo (which suggests that Scooby Doo may simply be covered with soil). Soils are similar to those found at the Viking landing sites. These findings suggest that soils of Mars may be a globally deposited unit, perhaps carried around the globe by global dust storms.

Scientists are busy trying to figure out how the global soils were created, if they are not the products of nearby rocks. It may mean that more information is needed about the chemistry of the rocks in order to further understand conditions at the landing site and the origin of the rocks and soils. These findings, including the finding of "Lamb-like Soil", contribute to the overall results of the Mars Pathfinder mission and the outstanding questions which remain about Mars.

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