This image shows some of the soils of Mars.
Click on image for full size
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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
Spinning the Rover's rear wheels was one way for scientists to test the soil of Mars. As the wheels dug into the surface, the Rover discovered that much of the ground is made of dust, possibly deposited...more
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...more
An important new result from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission is the definite confirmation of the presence of a magnetosphere around Mars. Previous missions did not make very good measurements of...more
These are the findings of Mars Pathfinder. Rounded Pebbles were found - a result from analysis of the landing site, the rocks, and the soils. there were a variety of rocks deposited by a catastrophic flood...more
The Mars Odyssey was launched April 7, 2001. After a six-month journey, the Odyssey arrived at Mars on October 24, 2001. The instruments onboard the Mars Odyssey will study the minerals on the surface...more
The Mars 2005 mission is still in the planning stages. It is set to launch in the year 2005. ...more
Aerobraking slowed the Mars Global Surveyor down when it reached Mars. Aerobraking also helped MGS to get into the right orbit for mapping the surface of Mars. Aerobraking means that the MGS flew through...more