Image display for discovery #3

GOOD-BYE OCEAN? Scientists have long searched Mars for carbonate minerals, a common by-product of weathering. But despite ample evidence for lots of water at the surface, massive carbonate deposits - relics of a possible ancient ocean - have proved elusive. Spectral data from the orbiting Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) came to the rescue - sort of. TES showed that Martian carbonate minerals do exist, but they are not primarily in the rocks. Instead, carbonate minerals dwell mainly in the dust that's everywhere on Mars. These carbonates probably did not form in any large bodies of water, but rather as atmospheric moisture combined with airborne dust. Click on the image to download a larger version (660 kB). NASA/JPL/Arizona State University

Bandfield, J. L., T. D. Glotch, and P. R. Christensen, Spectroscopic identification of carbonates in the Martian dust, Science, 301, 1084:1987, 2003.