20-EPN-24: Spectral investigation of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans as planetary analog for ancient fluvio-lacustrine environments on Mars
Visit by Katrin Stephan and Ernst Hauber, DLR Institute of Planetary Research (Germany) to TA1.5 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 30 July – 08 August 2022
Sedimentary environments on Mars display evidence for phyllosilicates and salts. The identification and characterisation of such minerals within ancient lacustrine environments on Mars is key to resolving its past habitability. Due to their geologic importance and their potential to preserve bio signatures (e.g. organic compounds), such deposits are prime targets for lander missions (e.g. Mars2020 and Exomars). To identify promising investigation areas and landing sites spectrometers working in the visible-near Infrared (VNIR) wavelength range are extremely useful to identify and map the surface composition of Mars and other planetary surfaces (Mars Express Omega, MRO CRISM< Cassini VIMS, Dawn VIR etc).
The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans of Botswana offer access to a depocenter in a closed basin that is characterised by clastic and chemical sediments. They are therefore an ideal analogue to collect in situ spectra at a terrestrial analogue to martian sedimentary deposits and to collect samples for investigation in the laboratory by other techniques (e.g. Raman spectroscopy). Katrin Stephan and Ernst Hauber (DLR) spent 9 days at the pans and measures a divers range of surfaces at 22 locations with a portable field spectrometer. For most of the measured sites and subsides (at most of the locations, several measurements were performed), samples were collected for further investigation in the laboratory. In parallel with the field measurements, we analyse satellite data to be able to tie the field data not only to laboratory measurements, but also to remote sensing data as we would do in planetary science.