IR SPECTRAL MAPPING OF THE MARTIAN SOUTH POLAR RESIDUAL CAP USING CRISM
- 1School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 4AT
- 2Imaging Group, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St Mary, Surrey, RH56NT
Keywords: Mars, SPRC, hyperspectral analysis, mineral and PAH mapping
Abstract. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are considered to be important in theories of abiogenesis (Allamandola, 2011) . There is evidence that PAHs have been detected on two icy Saturnian satellites using the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) on the Cassini spacecraft (Cruikshank et al., 2007). The hypothesised presence of PAHs in Mars south polar cap has not been systematically examined even though the Mars south polar cap may allow the preservation of organic molecules that are typically destroyed at the Martian surface by UV radiation (Dartnell et al. 2012). This hypothesis is supported by recent analyses of South Polar Residual Cap (SPRC) structural evolution (Thomas et al., 2009) that suggest the possibility that seasonal and long term sublimation may excavate dust particles from within the polar ice. Periodic sublimation is believed to be responsible for the formation of so-called “Swiss Cheese Terrain”, a unique surface feature found only in the Martian south polar residual cap consisting of flat floored, circular depressions (Byrne, 2009). We show the first examples of work towards the detection of PAHs in Swiss Cheese Terrain, using data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). CRISM is designed to search for mineralogical indications of past and present water, thus providing extensive coverage of the south polar cap. In this work, we discuss whether CRISM infrared spectra can be used to detect PAHs in Swiss Cheese Terrain and demonstrate a number of maps showing shifts in spectral profiles over the SPRC.