The mid-IR spectral effects of darkening agents and porosity on the silicate surface features of airless bodies

1Cindy L.Young, 2Michael J.Poston, 3James J.Wray, 2Kevin P.Hand, 2Robert W.Carlson
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2018.10.032]
1NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA
2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
3School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
Copyright Elsevier

We systematically measured the mid-IR spectra of different mixtures of three silicates (antigorite, lizardite, and pure silica) with varying effective porosities and amounts of darkening agent (iron oxide and carbon). These spectra have broad implications for interpretation of current and future mission data for airless bodies, as well as for testing the capabilities of new instruments. Serpentines, such as antigorite and lizardite, are common to airless surfaces, and their mid-IR spectra in the presence of darkening agents and different surface porosities would be typical for those measured by spacecraft. Silica has been measured in the plumes of Enceladus and presents exciting possibilities for other Saturn-system surfaces due to long-range transport of E-ring material. Results show that the addition of the IR-transparent salt, KBr, to simulate surface porosity affected silicate spectra in ways that were not predictable from linear mixing models. The strengthening of silicate bands with increasing pore space, even when only trace amounts of KBr were added, indicates that spectral features of porous surfaces are more detectable in the mid-IR. Combining iron oxide with the pure silicates seemed to flatten most of the silicate features, but strengthened the reststrahlen band of the silica. Incorporating carbon with the silicates weakened all silicate features, but the silica bands were more resistant to being diminished, indicating silica may be more detectable in the mid-IR than the serpentines. Finally, we show how incorporating darkening agents and porosity provides a more complete explanation of the mid-IR spectral features previously reported on worlds such as Iapetus.

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