By Dr. Jessica Flahaut (Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon, France), Dr. Janice Bishop (SETI Institute, California), Mélissa Martinot (VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Nicci Potts (the Open University, United Kingdom and 2015 Goetz Program awardee), Dr. Simone Silvestro (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy) and collaborators G.R. Davies, D. Tedesco, I. Daniel and C. Quantin (see references).
This project was funded by a NWO (Netherlands Science Organization) VENI fellowship attributed to Dr. Jessica Flahaut. Dr. Janice Bishop is grateful for support from the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
The identification and characterization of hydrated minerals, within ancient aqueous environments on Mars, are a high priority for determining the past habitability of the red planet. Few studies, however, have focused on characterizing entire mineral assemblages as this is often difficult to determine from remote sensing data, even though this could aide our understanding of past environments. This is especially true for the sulfate-rich deposits, which are thought to mark a transition to more acidic conditions at the Martian surface about 3.5 Ga. This transition would coincide with a period of global climate change. As a result, quantitative constraints on Martian habitability during the ‘Mars global change’ era remain poor.