Planetary Surfaces: Insights from spectroscopy



Remarkable advancements have been achieved in recent years using orbital and surface instruments on planetary bodies. Spectrometers have visited several planets and small bodies throughout the solar system, covering a large spectral domain. In combination with surface imagery, spectroscopy proved to be very powerful to understand the geologic history of those bodies. This session aims to foster discussion of the latest techniques and discoveries on the surface composition and processes of planetary bodies for recent and upcoming missions.

Convener: Damien Loizeau | Co-conveners: Jessica Flahaut, Jun Huang
vPICO presentations
| Wed, 28 Apr, 11:00–11:45 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Wed, 28 Apr

Chairpersons: Damien Loizeau, Jessica Flahaut, Jun Huang
Yuqi Qian, Long Xiao, James Head, Carolyn van der Bogert, Harald Hiesinger, Lionel Wilson, and Yuefeng Yuan


The Chang’e-5 (CE-5) mission is China’s first lunar sample return mission. CE-5 landed at Northern Oceanus Procellarum (43.1°N, 51.8°W) on December 1, 2020, collected 1731 g of lunar samples, and returned to the Earth on December 17, 2020. The CE-5 landing site is ~170 km ENE of Mons Rümker [1], characterized by some of the youngest mare basalts (Em4/P58) on the Moon [2,3], which are never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions [4]. This study describes the geologic background of the CE-5 landing site in order to provide context for the ongoing sample analysis.

Northern Oceanus Procellarum

Northern Oceanus Procellarum is in the northwest lunar nearside, and the center of the Procellarum-KREEP-Terrane [5], characterized by elevated heat-producing elements and prolonged volcanism. This region exhibits a huge volcanic complex, i.e., Mons Rümker [1], and two episodes of mare eruptions, i.e., Imbrian-aged low-Ti mare basalts in the west and Eratosthenian-aged high-Ti mare basalts (Em3 and Em4/P58) in the east [2]. The longest sinuous rille on the Moon [6], Rima Sharp, extends across Em4/P58. Both the Imbrian-aged (NW-SE) and Eratosthenian-aged (NE-SW) basalts display wrinkle ridges, indicating underlying structures, with different dominant orientations [2].

Young Mare Basalts

The Em4/P58 mare basaltic unit, on which CE-5 landed, is one of the youngest mare basalts on the Moon. Various researchers found different CSFD results; however, all of them point to an Eratosthenian age for Em4/P85 (1.21 Ga [2], 1.33 Ga [7,8], 1.53 Ga [3], 1.91 Ga [9]), and there are minor age variations across Em4/P58 [3]. Em4/P58 mare basalts have high-Ti, relatively high-olivine and high-Th abundances, while clinopyroxene is the most abundant mineral type [2,3]. Em4/P58 mare basalts cover an area of ~37,000 km2, with a mean thickness of ~51 m and volume of ~1450-2350 km3 [3]. No specific source vents were found within the unit, and Rima Sharp is the most likely source region for the Em4/P58 mare basalts [3].

Scientific Significance of the Returned Samples

The scientific significance of the young mare basalts is summarized in our previous studies [2,3]. In [3], we first summarized the 27 fundamental questions that may be answered by the returned CE-5 samples, including questions about chronology, petrogenesis, regional setting, geodynamic & thermal evolution, and regolith formation (Tab. 1 in [3]), especially calibrating the lunar chronology function, constraining the lunar dynamo status, unraveling the deep mantle properties, and assessing the Procellarum-KREEP-Terrain structures.


[1] Zhao J. et al. (2017) JGR, 122, 1419–1442. [2] Qian Y. et al (2018) JGR, 123, 1407–1430. [3] Qian Y. et al. (2021) EPSL, 555, 116702. [4] Tartèse R. et al. (2019) Space Sci. Rev., 215, 54. [5] Jolliff B. L. et al. (2000) JGR, 105, 4197–4216. [6] Hurwitz D. M. et al. (2013) Planet. Space Sci., 79–80, 1–38. [7] Hiesinger H. et al. (2003) JGR, 108, 1–1 (2003). [8] Hiesinger H. et al. (2011) Geol. Soc. Am., 477, 1–51. [9] Morota T. et al. (2011) EPSL, 302, 255–266.

How to cite: Qian, Y., Xiao, L., Head, J., van der Bogert, C., Hiesinger, H., Wilson, L., and Yuan, Y.: China's Chang'e-5 Landing Site: An Overview, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1615,, 2021.

Gen Ito, Jessica Flahaut, and Jun Huang

The far side of the Moon, which has generally been less frequently targeted by robotic and human missions in the past, has become more available for compositional analyses with measurements made by the Chang’E-4 mission that landed in South Pole-Aitken Basin in 2019. The rover of the mission, Yutu-2, has traversed over 500 m now and acquired more than 100 measurements of visible and near-infrared (VNIR) reflectance spectra. In this study, we analyze the full set of VNIR reflectance spectra collected so far in order to better understand the geology of the Von Karman mare. We compute spectral parameters to quantize major features of spectra and infer mineralogy, e.g., pyroxene composition analysis using the relationship between spectral band depths at 1 µm and 2 µm. Many of Chang’E-4 spectra do not have a detectable spectral band at 2 µm in which case we use spectral parameters for the band at 1 µm to make classifications and infer the presence of other minerals. Pyroxene composition inferred from Chang’E-4 spectra are midway between orthopyroxene and clinopyroxene, showing noticeably unique grouping when compared with 1 µm and 2 µm band depth data available from past studies. For spectra without detectable band at 2 µm, initial classification efforts based solely on spectral parameters of the 1 µm band seem to indicate that at least two distinct groups exist. We are further investigating these preliminary findings, such as through comparisons to data from Moon Mineralogy Mapper, to better understand the mineralogy of the measured materials and the geology of the region explored by Yutu-2 rover. 

How to cite: Ito, G., Flahaut, J., and Huang, J.: Mineralogy of the far-side lunar surface explored by Chang’E-4 with visible and near-infrared reflectance spectra, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8753,, 2021.

Francesca Zambon, Cristian Carli, Francesca Altieri, Jean-Philippe Combe, Carolyn H. van der Bogert, Claudia M. Poehler, Harald Hiesinger, Stephane Le Mouélic, Nicolas Mangold, Gwénaël Caravaca, and Matteo Massironi

The spectral analysis of a planetary surface is fundamental for a deeper understanding of the mineralogy and composition. In particular, the determination of spectral units is a reliable method to infer the physical and compositional properties of a surface by processing several spectral parameters simultaneously, instead of the more traditional approach of interpreting each single parameter separately. To define the spectal units, we first compute the most relevant spectral parameters, based on a preliminary detailed analysis of the spectral properties of a surface. This method could be used for different bodies and is described in [1].

For this work, we selected the Apollo Basin area within South Polar Aitken [2,3], the largest and deepest impact basin on the Moon. We analyzed the M3/Chandrayaan-1 data [4] after performing the most up-to-date calibration, thermal removal and photometric correction [5,6]. Lunar spectra are characterized by two strong pyroxenes absorption bands at 1 and 2 µm. In this regard, we decided to define the Apollo Basin spectral units by using the two pyroxenes band depths, the reflectance at 540 nm (standard visible wavelength), and the spectral slope of the 1 µm (see [7]). In Apollo Basin, we found 12 different spectral units. Among these units, the most peculiar is the one linked to the basaltic smooth plains within the floor of the crater. This unit is characterized by low reflectance, deep band depths and a strongly positive spectral slopes (more red surfaces). Subsequently, an analysis of absorption band center at 1 and 2 µm and a comparison with RELAB synthetic pyroxenes [8] revealed a composition compatible with material dominated by strong pyroxene absorptions, e.g. clinopiroxenes, such as pigeonite or augite, with Low Ca and Mg, and relatively high Fe (Fs: 34-75; En: 6-23; Wo: 10-27). The rest of the units show a similar mineralogy to the orthopyroxenes, with intermediate amount of Fe and Mg.

This work allows for a detailed understanding of the mineralogy of Apollo Basin, but also lays the groundwork to search for a link between spectral, and morpho-stratigraphic units [9] to reach out highly informative geological maps of the Moon. This innovative approach is one of the main goals of the H2020 no. 776276-PLANMAP project [10].

Acknowledgments: This work is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research grant agreement No 776276- PLANMAP.

References: [1] Zambon et al., 2020 LPSC. [2] Ohtake, M. et al., 2014, GRL. [3] Moriarty, D.P. et al., 2018, JGR. [4] Pieters et al., 2009, Current Science. [5] PLANMAP D4.3- Spectral Indices and RGB maps. [6] Besse, S. et al., 2012, Icarus. [7] PLANMAP D4.3- Spectral Indices and RGB maps. [8] [9] Ivanov, M.A., 2018, JGR. [10]

How to cite: Zambon, F., Carli, C., Altieri, F., Combe, J.-P., van der Bogert, C. H., Poehler, C. M., Hiesinger, H., Le Mouélic, S., Mangold, N., Caravaca, G., and Massironi, M.: Spectral analysis of Apollo Basins on the Moon through spectral units identification, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15831,, 2021.

Anton Sanin, Igor Mitrofanov, and Maxim Litvak

Determining the amount of water ice in the lunar regolith is an important task not only from a scientific point of view, but it is also important for exploration, since water may be used in many aspects - from the production of rocket fuel to direct use by astronauts during their stay on a habitable lunar base. One of the methods of remote sensing for hydrogen-bearing compounds, such as water ice, in the upper 1–2 m subsurface soil layer of atmosphereless celestial bodies is the spectroscopy of the neutron leakage flux from the surface. To estimate water equivalent hydrogen (WEH) in the lunar soil we have used data of Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), operating almost continuously in orbit around the Moon from 2009 to the present [1].

LEND is the collimated epithermal neutron telescope which uses the passive neutron collimator to collect most of neutron signal at a narrow field of view (FOV). Dataset gathered by LEND till April 1, 2015 was early used to estimate the water equivalent hydrogen (WEH) and create maps of its distribution [2]. After 5 years of additional data accumulation we update the WEH map in the Southern circumpolar region, including both large permanently shadow regions (PSRs) and neutron suppression regions (NSRs), which might be partially overlapping with PSRs and often extends on sunlit areas.

The updated map is done not only by the new larger dataset, but by new WEH estimation method also. This method uses precise estimation of the neutron flux at different altitudes of spacecraft orbits modelled with specially developed code based on the Geant4 toolkit with additional treatment of the neutron propagation in the lunar gravity field. Also, the method precisely accounts the fact of the collimator partial transparency, which leads to additional background counting rate in detectors dependent on WEH in the soil at surrounding regions located out of the instrument FOV. 

1.    Mitrofanov I. et al. (2010) Space Sci. Rev., 150, 183–207.
2.    Sanin A. B. et al. (2017) Icarus, 283, 20-30.

How to cite: Sanin, A., Mitrofanov, I., and Litvak, M.: Updated Mapping of Hydrogen in the Lunar Southern Polar Regions according to LEND/LRO data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10440,, 2021.

Nicolas Bott, Océane Barraud, and Laura Guzzetta

The BepiColombo spacecraft was launched in October 19th, 2018 (local time) towards Mercury, carrying 16 instruments in two orbiters (MPO and MMO). Among this impressive set of devices, the SIMBIO-SYS (Spectrometer and Imagers for MPO BepiColombo Integrated Observatory SYStem) instrument [Cremonese et al., 2020] will map at an unprecedented high resolution the surface of the innermost planet of the Solar system, thanks to 3 cameras: STC (Stereo Channel), a stereo camera; HRIC (High spatial Resolution Imaging Channel), a multispectral camera with a very high spatial resolution; VIHI (Visible Infrared Hyperspectral Imager channel), a hyperspectral imager to with a good spectral resolution and a good S/N ratio. The last one aims to map the global mineralogical composition of Mercury, which has not yet been precisely determined due to the absence of diagnostic absorption bands in the remote sensing data of the previous MESSENGER mission [Izenberg et al., 2014]. The choice and the list of targets SIMBIO-SYS will have to analyse are still in progress and are continuously updated. Therefore, preliminary studies of potential targets of interest can be very useful to support their selection.

For that purpose, we started investigating a particular crater, Degas, which occurs in the Shakespeare quadrangle (H-03) [Guzzetta et al., 2017; Bott et al., 2019], located at mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere of Mercury (37.08 ◦ N - 232.66 ◦ E). Its well-preserved ray system of ejecta are a strong hint in favor of its chronostratigraphic classification as a Kuiperian (-1 Gyr – today) crater [Banks et al., 2017]. By using MESSENGER data, we analysed the Degas crater with a three-fold approch: a multispectral analysis based on MDIS-WAC data have been combined with a spectroscopic analysis of MASCS data and a geological analysis based on MDIS-NAC images. Here, we would like to present the first outputs of our works, including a set of color and monochrome mosaics, spectral parameters maps and spectra of each kind of terrain identified with the mosaics, and the first results of the high-resolution geological mapping of the Degas crater performed on a NAC images mosaic of 23 m/pixel. Other findings and initial discussions will be presented during the virtual talk.

Acknowledgements: This work is partly supported by the Centre National d' Études Spatiales. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) under ASI-INAF agreement2017-47-H.0. The authors acknowledge the use of MESSENGER data.

How to cite: Bott, N., Barraud, O., and Guzzetta, L.: Preliminary spectral and geological analyses of the Degas crater on Mercury - supporting the SIMBIO-SYS instrument onboard BepiColombo, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15541,, 2021.

Lucie Riu, Cédric Pilorget, Ralph Milliken, Kohei Kitazato, Tomoki Nakamura, Yuichiro Cho, Moe Matsuoka, Seiji Sugita, Masanao Abe, Shuji Matsuura, Makiko Ohtake, Shingo Kameda, Naoya Sakatani, Eri Tatsumi, Yasuhiro Yokota, and Takahiro Iwata

Asteroid Ryugu was observed up close for almost a year and a half by the instruments on-board the Japanese Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa2 spacecraft. It has been shown that in the near-infrared wavelength ranges, the asteroid exhibits relatively homogeneous spectral characteristics: including a very low reflectance factor, a slight red slope towards longer wavelengths, and a narrow and weak absorption feature centered at 2.72 μm. Numerous craters have been identified at the surface of Ryugu. These features provide good candidates for studying more recently exposed near-surface material to further assess potential spectral/compositional heterogeneities of Ryugu. We present here the results of a spectral survey of all previously identified and referenced craters (Hirata et al. 2020) based on reflectance data acquired by the NIRS3 spectrometer. Globally, we find that the spectral properties inside and outside of craters are very similar, indicating that subsurface material is either compositionally similar to material at the surface that has a longer exposure age or that material at Ryugu’s optical surface is spectrally altered over relatively short timescales by external factors such as space weathering. The 2.72 μm band depth, present on the overall surface, exhibits a slight anti-correlation with the reflectance factor selected at 2 μm, which could indicate different surface properties (e.g., grain size and/or porosity) or different alteration processes (e.g., space weathering, shock metamorphism and/or solar heating). We identified four different spectral classes based on their reflectance factor at 2 μm and 2.72 μm absorption strength. The most commonly spectral behavior associated with crater floors, is defined by a slightly lower reflectance at 2 μm and deeper band depth. These spectral characteristics are similar to those of subsurface material excavated by the Hayabusa2 small carry-on impactor (SCI) experiment, suggesting these spectral characteristics may represent materials with a younger surface exposure age. Conversely, these materials may have experienced significant solar heating and desiccation to form finer grains that subsequently migrated towards and preferentially accumulated in areas of low geopotential, such as craters floors. Detailed analyses of the returned samples of Ryugu that are now being investigated at the curation facility in ISAS will allow for further testing of these formation and alteration hypotheses. 

How to cite: Riu, L., Pilorget, C., Milliken, R., Kitazato, K., Nakamura, T., Cho, Y., Matsuoka, M., Sugita, S., Abe, M., Matsuura, S., Ohtake, M., Kameda, S., Sakatani, N., Tatsumi, E., Yokota, Y., and Iwata, T.: Characterization of the craters’ surface at Ryugu using NIR spectroscopy, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14015,, 2021.

Marie Barthez, Jessica Flahaut, Gen Ito, Julio Hernandez-Palacios, Na Liu, and Raphaël Pik

New feldspar detections made by visible-near infrared (VNIR) spectroscopy last year on Mars [1], raise questions on the nature of the rocks involved and the magmatic processes responsible for their formation.

Following these new findings, a range of terrestrial feldspathic rocks, which are possible analogs to the feldspar-bearing Martian rocks, were analyzed using a VNIR point-spectrometer (ASD Fieldspec 4) in a laboratory [2]. A spectral library referencing the average reflectance spectrum of uncrushed terrestrial feldspathic rocks, including granites, granodiorites, phenocryst basalts, dacites, anorthosites, was assembled. One of the conclusions from this work was that a more detailed, grain-by-grain spectral analysis is needed.

In this study we used a new instrument that made it possible to determine the grain-by-grain mineralogical composition of these same terrestrial analog rocks. VNIR spectra were acquired with the HySpex hyperspectral cameras VNIR-1800 and SWIR-384 that acquire high-resolution data in the visible near-infrared and short-wave infrared wavelength ranges. The cameras image the scene line by line using the pushbroom scanning technique. Using interchangeable lenses, cameras were used to acquire spectroscopy data at a distance of 30cm and at 8cm from the sample. In the VNIR, this results in a pixel size of about 53 µm and 24µm at sample-sensor distance of 30cm and 8cm, respectively, while in the SWIR, the pixel size is 250 µm and 55µm at a distance of at 30cm and 8cm, respectively. The hyperspectral cubes are analyzed with the ENVI software to classify the image pixels according to their spectral signature. Thus, the different minerals present in the rock, which are often on a millimeter scale, are grouped into different classes. The statistics give the average spectrum of each class, and therefore each mineral group.

This study, complementary to that of Barthez et al. (2020), makes it possible to associate, for each studied rock sample, an average reflectance spectrum of the bulk rock to a precise mapping of the different minerals present in the rock. This study allows us to determine if the feldspar minerals are contributing to the observed rock spectrum, and to assess each mineral group’s contribution to the spectral signature of the whole rock. Detailed petrographic characterization of rocks are also being conducted to evaluate characterizations done with spectral data.



[1] J.Flahaut et al. (2020). EGU Abstracts, EGU2020-13377

[2] M.Barthez et al. (2020). EPSC Abstracts, EPSC2020-606

How to cite: Barthez, M., Flahaut, J., Ito, G., Hernandez-Palacios, J., Liu, N., and Pik, R.: Mineralogical composition of terrestrial feldspathic rocks using reflectance spectroscopy data from HySpex hyperspectral cameras, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11902,, 2021.

Damien Loizeau, Cédric Pilorget, François Poulet, Cateline Lantz, Jean-Pierre Bibring, Vincent Hamm, Henning Dypvik, Agata M. Krzesińska, Fernando Rull, and Stephanie C. Werner

The PTAL project [1] aims to build an Earth analogues database, the Planetary Terrestrial Analogues Library, to help characterizing the mineralogical evolution of terrestrial bodies, with a focus on Martian analogues ( A set of natural Earth rock samples have been collected, compelling a variety of igneous and sedimentary rocks with variable compositions and levels of alteration. Those samples are characterized with thin section observations and XRD analysis, NIR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and LIBS.

This abstract focuses on the NIR (Near Infrared) spectroscopy analysis performed using the MicrOmega instrument, a NIR hyperspectral microscope (e.g. [2]). The MicrOmega instrument used within the PTAL project is the spare model of the ExoMars rover laboratory. It has a total field of view of 5 mm x 5 mm, with resolution of 20 µm/pixel in the focal plane. It covers the spectral domain from 0.98 µm to ~3.6 µm. Its capabilities enable the identification of grains of different mineralogy in the samples [2].

Each MicrOmega observation produces >65,000 spectra, hence automatic analysis is needed as a first step. After data calibration, a quick-look data analysis based on a set of ~16 spectral parameters based on the detection of single or multiple absorption bands was performed to produce spectral indices maps and average spectra, then guiding the manual analysis in a second step. After spectral endmembers are identified, they are compared to reference spectral libraries to identify the presence of minerals species in the sample. Spectral parameter maps can then be used to map the extent of the identified mineral species on the surface of the sample. Final products of the analyses will feed the online PTAL spectral database, and a paper describing these analyses has recently been submitted to Astrobiology.

Mineral species detected with MicrOmega in the PTAL samples include: Olivine, High Calcium Pyroxene, Low Calcium Pyroxene, Amphiboles, Epidotes, Zeolites, Opals, Phyllosilicates, Oxides and Hydroxides, Carbonates, and Sulfates.

Preliminary comparisons with XRD and Raman analyses show general consistency in the identification of olivine, pyroxene and hydrated phases. As expected, quartz and plagioclase for example are challenging to be identified in NIR, but MicrOmega shows well the capacity in hydrated minerals identification and qualitative estimation of major and minor mineral species thanks to its spectral-imaging capabilities.

The PTAL spectral database will assist in particular in interpreting in situ data from the next Mars surface missions. The target-rocks in Oxia Planum and Jezero Crater, the landing sites of the next surface missions, have compositional similarities with some samples of the PTAL collection, in particular with the orbital identification of clay minerals and serpentine. The NIR spectrometers on board the rovers will be involved at multiple stages of the surface operations and will be crucial to understand the geologic history of each landing site, and in particular the context of the water alteration of the rocks.

References: [1] Werner et al. (2018) Second International Mars Sample Return, No. 2071, 6060. [2] Pilorget and Bibring (2014) PSS 99, 7-18.

Acknowledgements: This project is financed through the European Research Council in the H2020-COMPET-2015 program (grant 687302).

How to cite: Loizeau, D., Pilorget, C., Poulet, F., Lantz, C., Bibring, J.-P., Hamm, V., Dypvik, H., Krzesińska, A. M., Rull, F., and Werner, S. C.: Analogue Rock Characterization with MicrOmega, within the H2020/PTAL project., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2668,, 2021.