Modeling of surface spectra with and without dust from Martian infrared data: new aspects

Natalia Ewa Zalewska (Institute of Aviation, Warsaw, Poland and Department of Planetology, Space Research Center PAS, Warsaw, Poland)
Maja Mroczkowska-Szerszeń (Department of Geology and Geochemistry, Oil and Gas Institute, National Research Institute, Krakow, Poland)
Joerg Fritz (Saalbau Weltraum Projekt, Heppenheim, Germany)
Maria Błęcka (Department of Planetology, Space Research Center PAS, Warsaw, Poland)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Publication date: 4 February 2019



This paper aims to characterize the mineral composition of Martian surfaces based on Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES; Mars Global Surveyor) as measured in the infrared thermal range. It presents modeling and interpreting of TES spectral data from selected Martian regions from which the atmospheric influences had been removed using radiative transfer algorithm and deconvolution algorithm. The spectra from the dark area of Cimmeria Terra and the bright Isidis Planitia were developed in Philip Christensen’s and Joshua Bandfield’s publications, where these spectra were subjected to spectral deconvolution to estimate the mineral composition of the Martian surface. The results of the analyses of these spectra were used for the modeling of dusty and non-dusty surface of Mars. As an additional source, the mineral compositions of Polish basalts and mafic rocks were used for these surfaces as well as for modeling Martian meteorites Shergottites, Nakhlites and Chassignites. Finally, the spectra for the modeling of the Hellas region were obtained from the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) – (Mars Express) and the mineralogical compositions of basalts from the southern part of Poland were used for this purpose. The Hellas region was modeled also using simulated Martian soil samples Phyllosilicatic Mars Regolith Simulant and Sulfatic Mars Regolith Simulant, showing as a result that the composition of this selected area has a high content of sulfates. Linear spectral combination was chosen as the best modeling method. The modeling was performed using PFSLook software written in the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Additional measurements were made with an infrared spectrometer in thermal infrared spectroscopy, for comparison with the measurements of PFS and TES. The research uses a kind of modeling that successfully matches mineralogical composition to the measured spectrum from the surface of Mars, which is the main goal of the publication. This method is used for areas where sample collection is not yet possible. The areas have been chosen based on public availability of the data.


The infrared spectra of the Martian surface were modeled by applying the linear combination of the spectra of selected minerals, which then are normalized against the measured surface area with previously separated atmosphere. The minerals for modeling are selected based on the expected composition of the Martian rocks, such as basalt. The software used for this purpose was PFSLook, a program written in C++ at the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences, which is based on adding the spectra of minerals in the relevant percentage, resulting in a final spectrum containing 100 per cent of the minerals.


The results of this work confirmed that there is a relationship between the modeled, altered and unaltered, basaltic surface and the measured spectrum from Martian instruments. Spectral deconvolution makes it possible to interpret the measured spectra from areas that are potentially difficult to explore or to choose interesting areas to explore on site. The method is described for mid-infrared because of software availability, but it can be successfully applied to shortwave spectra in near-infrared (NIR) band for data from the currently functioning Martian spectroscopes.


This work is the only one attempting modeling the spectra of the surface of Mars with a separated atmosphere and to determine the mineralogical composition.



This study was supported by Institute of Aviation. The authors would like to thank the Space Research Centre PAS for the support during research and the contributions of Oil and Gas Institute in Cracow for the infrared measurements. The authors are also grateful to anonymous reviewers and the language editor Alicja Mazurek for suggestions.


Zalewska, N., Mroczkowska-Szerszeń, M., Fritz, J. and Błęcka, M. (2019), "Modeling of surface spectra with and without dust from Martian infrared data: new aspects", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 91 No. 2, pp. 333-345.

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