New insights into the mineralogy and weathering of the Meridiani Planum meteorite, Mars


Fleischer I, Schröder C, Klingelhoefer G, Zipfel J, Morris RV, Ashley JW, Gellert R, Wehrheim S & Ebert S (2011) New insights into the mineralogy and weathering of the Meridiani Planum meteorite, Mars. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 46 (1), pp. 21-34.

Meridiani Planum is the first officially recognized meteorite find on the surface of Mars. It was discovered at and named after the landing site of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Based on its composition, it was classified as a IAB complex iron meteorite. Mössbauer spectra obtained by Opportunity are dominated by kamacite (a-Fe-Ni) and exhibit a small contribution of ferric oxide. Several small features in the spectra have been neglected to date. To shed more light on these features, five iron meteorite specimens were investigated as analogs to Meridiani Planum with a laboratory Mössbauer setup. Measurements were performed on (1) their metallic bulk, (2) troilite (FeS) inclusions, (3) cohenite ((Fe,Ni,Co)3C) and schreibersite ((Fe,Ni)3P), and (4) corroded rims. In addition to these room-temperature measurements, a specimen from the Mundrabilla IAB-ungrouped meteorite was measured at Mars-equivalent temperatures. Based on these measurements, the features in Meridiani Planum spectra can be explained with the presence of small amounts of schreibersite and ⁄ or cohenite and iron oxides. The iron oxides can be attributed to a previously reported coating on Meridiani Planum. Their presence indicates weathering through the interaction of the meteorite with small amounts of water.

Meteoritics and Planetary Science: Volume 46, Issue 1

Publication date31/01/2011
PublisherThe Meteoritical Society