The Mars Pathfinder (MPF) landing site was predicted to contain a broad sampling of rock types varying in mineralogical, physical, mechanical and geochemical characteristics. Although rocks have been divided into several spectral categories based on Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) visible/near-infrared data, efforts in isolating and classifying spectral units among MPF rocks and soils have met with varying degrees of success, as many factors influencing spectral signatures cannot be quantified to a sufficient level to be removed. It has not been fully determined which spectral categories stem from intrinsic mineralogical differences between rocks or rock surfaces, and which result from factors such as physical or chemical weathering. This has made isolation of unique rock mineralogies difficult. Morphology, like composition, is a characteristic tied to the intrinsic properties and geologic and weathering history of rocks. Rock morphologies can be assessed quantitatively and compared with spectral data, to identify and classify rock types at the MPF landing site. They can also isolate actual rock spectra from spectral types that are surficial in origin, as compositions associated with mantling dust or chemical coatings would presumably not influence rock morphology during weathering events. We previously reported on an initial classification of rocks using the quantitative morphologic indices of size, roundness, sphericity and elongation. Here, we compare this database of rock characteristics with associated rock surface spectra to improve our ability to discriminate between spectra associated with rock types and those from other sources.
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVI, Part 22; LPI-Contrib-1234-Pt-22