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Filters: Tags: Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets (X) > partyWithName: S. W. Squyres (X)

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Excavating into the shallow Martian subsurface has the potential to expose stratigraphic layers and mature regolith, which may hold a record of more ancient aqueous interactions than those expected under current Martian surface conditions. During the Spirit rover's exploration of Gusev crater, rover wheels were used to dig three trenches into the subsurface regolith down to 6-11 cm depth: Road Cut, the Big Hole, and The Boroughs. A high oxidation state of Fe and high concentrations of Mg, S, Cl, and Br were found in the subsurface regolith within the two trenches on the plains, between the Bonneville crater and the foot of Columbia Hills. Data analyses on the basis of geochemistry and mineralogy observations suggest...
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The Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) on board the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is part of a payload designed to investigate whether a lake once existed in Gusev Crater. Mini-TES has observed hundreds of rocks along the rover's traverse into the Columbia Hills, yielding information on their distribution, bulk mineralogy, and the potential role of water at the site. Although dust in various forms produces contributions to the spectra, we have established techniques for dealing with it. All of the rocks encountered on the plains traverse from the lander to the base of the Columbia Hills share common spectral features consistent with an olivine-rich basaltic rock known as Adirondack Class. Beginning...
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In January 2004 the Mars Exploration Rover mission will land two rovers at two different landing sites that show possible evidence for past liquid‐water activity. The spacecraft design is based on the Mars Pathfinder configuration for cruise and entry, descent, and landing. Each of the identical rovers is equipped with a science payload of two remote‐sensing instruments that will view the surrounding terrain from the top of a mast, a robotic arm that can place three instruments and a rock abrasion tool on selected rock and soil samples, and several onboard magnets and calibration targets. Engineering sensors and components useful for science investigations include stereo navigation cameras, stereo hazard cameras...
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Visible and near-infrared (VNIR) multispectral observations of rocks made by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's Panoramic camera (Pancam) have been analyzed using a spectral mixture analysis (SMA) methodology. Scenes have been examined from the Gusev crater plains into the Columbia Hills. Most scenes on the plains and in the Columbia Hills could be modeled as three end-member mixtures of a bright material, rock, and shade. Scenes of rocks disturbed by the rover's Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) required additional end-members. In the Columbia Hills, there were a number of scenes in which additional rock end-members were required. The SMA methodology identified relatively dust-free areas on undisturbed rock surfaces as...
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Using the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, we have compiled one of the first field geologic maps on Mars while traversing the Noachian terrain along the rim of the 22 km diameter Endeavour Crater (Latitude −2°16′33″, Longitude −5°10′51″). In situ mapping of the petrographic, elemental, structural, and stratigraphic characteristics of outcrops and rocks distinguishes four mappable bedrock lithologic units. Three of these rock units predate the surrounding Burns formation sulfate-rich sandstones and one, the Matijevic Formation, represents conditions on early Mars predating the formation of Endeavour Crater. The stratigraphy assembled from these observations includes several geologic unconformities. The differences...
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Chemical, mineralogic, and lithologic ground truth was acquired for the first time on Mars in terrain units mapped using orbital Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (MRO HiRISE) image data. Examination of several dozen outcrops shows that Mars is geologically complex at meter length scales, the record of its geologic history is well exposed, stratigraphic units may be identified and correlated across significant areas on the ground, and outcrops and geologic relationships between materials may be analyzed with techniques commonly employed in terrestrial field geology. Despite their burial during the course of Martian geologic time by widespread epiclastic materials, mobile fines,...
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Irvine, Backstay, and Wishstone are the type specimens for three classes of fine-grained or fragmental, relatively unaltered rocks with distinctive thermal emission spectra, found as float on the flanks of the Columbia Hills. Chemical analyses indicate that these rocks are mildly alkaline basalt, trachybasalt, and tephrite, respectively. Their mineralogy consists of Na- and K-rich feldspar(s), low- and high-Ca pyroxenes, ferroan olivine, Fe-Ti (and possibly Cr) oxides, phosphate, and possibly glass. The texture of Wishstone is consistent with a pyroclastic origin, whereas Irvine and Backstay are lavas or possibly dike rocks. Chemical compositions of these rocks plot on or near liquid lines of descent for most elements...
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Veneers and thicker rinds that coat outcrop surfaces and partially cemented fracture fills formed perpendicular to bedding document relatively late stage alteration of ancient sedimentary rocks at Meridiani Planum, Mars. The chemistry of submillimeter thick, buff-colored veneers reflects multiple processes at work since the establishment of the current plains surface. Veneer composition is dominated by the mixing of silicate-rich dust and sulfate-rich outcrop surface, but it has also been influenced by mineral precipitation, including NaCl, and possibly by limited physical or chemical weathering of sulfate minerals. Competing processes of chemical alteration (perhaps mediated by thin films of water or water vapor...
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Chemical, mineralogic, and lithologic ground truth was acquired for the first time on Mars in terrain units mapped using orbital Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (MRO HiRISE) image data. Examination of several dozen outcrops shows that Mars is geologically complex at meter length scales, the record of its geologic history is well exposed, stratigraphic units may be identified and correlated across significant areas on the ground, and outcrops and geologic relationships between materials may be analyzed with techniques commonly employed in terrestrial field geology. Despite their burial during the course of Martian geologic time by widespread epiclastic materials, mobile fines,...
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Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars hyperspectral (1.0–2.65 µm) along-track oversampled observations covering Victoria, Santa Maria, Endeavour, and Ada craters were processed to 6 m/pixel and used in combination with Opportunity observations to detect and map hydrated Mg and Ca sulfate minerals in the Burns formation. The strongest spectral absorption features were found to be associated with outcrops that are relatively young and fresh (Ada) or preferentially scoured of dust, soil, and coatings by prevailing winds. At Victoria and Santa Maria, the scoured areas are on the southeastern rims and walls, opposite to the sides where wind-blown sands extend out of the craters. At Endeavour, the deepest...
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The weathering of meteorites found on Mars involves chemical and physical processes that can provide clues to climate conditions at the location of their discovery. Beginning on sol 1961, the Opportunity rover encountered three large iron meteorites within a few hundred meters of each other. In order of discovery, these rocks have been assigned the unofficial names Block Island, Shelter Island, and Mackinac Island. Each rock presents a unique but complimentary set of features that increase our understanding of weathering processes at Meridiani Planum. Significant morphologic characteristics interpretable as weathering features include (1) a large pit in Block Island, lined with delicate iron protrusions suggestive...
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The presence of outcrops and soil (regolith) rich in opaline silica (∼65–92 wt % SiO2) in association with volcanic materials adjacent to the “Home Plate” feature in Gusev crater is evidence for hydrothermal conditions. The Spirit rover has supplied a diverse set of observations that are used here to better understand the formation of silica and the activity, abundance, and fate of water in the first hydrothermal system to be explored in situ on Mars. We apply spectral, chemical, morphological, textural, and stratigraphic observations to assess whether the silica was produced by acid sulfate leaching of precursor rocks, by precipitation from silica‐rich solutions, or by some combination. The apparent lack of S enrichment...
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The Panoramic Camera (Pancam) investigation is part of the Athena science payload launched to Mars in 2003 on NASA's twin Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions. The scientific goals of the Pancam investigation are to assess the high‐resolution morphology, topography, and geologic context of each MER landing site, to obtain color images to constrain the mineralogic, photometric, and physical properties of surface materials, and to determine dust and aerosol opacity and physical properties from direct imaging of the Sun and sky. Pancam also provides mission support measurements for the rovers, including Sun‐finding for rover navigation, hazard identification and digital terrain modeling to help guide long‐term rover...
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The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity touched down at Meridiani Planum in January 2004 and since then has been conducting observations with the Athena science payload. The rover has traversed more than 5 km, carrying out the first outcrop‐scale investigation of sedimentary rocks on Mars. The rocks of Meridiani Planum are sandstones formed by eolian and aqueous reworking of sand grains that are composed of mixed fine‐grained siliciclastics and sulfates. The siliciclastic fraction was produced by chemical alteration of a precursor basalt. The sulfates are dominantly Mg‐sulfates and also include Ca‐sulfates and jarosite. The stratigraphic section observed to date is dominated by eolian bedforms, with subaqueous current...
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The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has identified five distinct rock types in the Columbia Hills of Gusev crater. Clovis Class rock is a poorly sorted clastic rock that has undergone substantial aqueous alteration. We interpret it to be aqueously altered ejecta deposits formed by impacts into basaltic materials. Wishstone Class rock is also a poorly sorted clastic rock that has a distinctive chemical composition that is high in Ti and P and low in Cr. Wishstone Class rock may be pyroclastic or impact in origin. Peace Class rock is a sedimentary material composed of ultramafic sand grains cemented by significant quantities of Mg- and Ca-sulfates. Peace Class rock may have formed when water briefly saturated the ultramafic...
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Reduced weathering rates due to the lack of liquid water and significantly greater typical surface ages should result in a higher density of meteorites on the surface of Mars compared to Earth. Several meteorites were identified among the rocks investigated during Opportunity's traverse across the sandy Meridiani plains. Heat Shield Rock is a IAB iron meteorite and has been officially recognized as 'Meridiani Planum.' Barberton is olivine-rich and contains metallic Fe in the form of kamacite, suggesting a meteoritic origin. It is chemically most consistent with a mesosiderite silicate clast. Santa Catarina is a brecciated rock with a chemical and mineralogical composition similar to Barberton. Barberton, Santa Catarina,...
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This paper summarizes Spirit Rover operations in the Columbia Hills, Gusev crater, from sol 1410 (start of the third winter campaign) to sol 2169 (when extrication attempts from Troy stopped to winterize the vehicle) and provides an overview of key scientific results. The third winter campaign took advantage of parking on the northern slope of Home Plate to tilt the vehicle to track the sun and thus survive the winter season. With the onset of the spring season, Spirit began circumnavigating Home Plate on the way to volcanic constructs located to the south. Silica‐rich nodular rocks were discovered in the valley to the north of Home Plate. The inoperative right front wheel drive actuator made climbing soil‐covered...
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Columbus crater in the Terra Sirenum region of the Martian southern highlands contains light‐toned layered deposits with interbedded sulfate and phyllosilicate minerals, a rare occurrence on Mars. Here we investigate in detail the morphology, thermophysical properties, mineralogy, and stratigraphy of these deposits; explore their regional context; and interpret the crater's aqueous history. Hydrated mineral‐bearing deposits occupy a discrete ring around the walls of Columbus crater and are also exposed beneath younger materials, possibly lava flows, on its floor. Widespread minerals identified in the crater include gypsum, polyhydrated and monohydrated Mg/Fe‐sulfates, and kaolinite; localized deposits consistent...
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The Mars Exploration Rovers investigated numerous craters in Gusev crater and Meridiani Planum during the first ???400 sols of their missions. Craters vary in size and preservation state but are mostly due to secondary impacts at Gusev and primary impacts at Meridiani. Craters at both locations are modified primarily by eolian erosion and infilling and lack evidence for modification by aqueous processes. Effects of gradation on crater form are dependent on size, local lithology, slopes, and availability of mobile sediments. At Gusev, impacts into basaltic rubble create shallow craters and ejecta composed of resistant rocks. Ejecta initially experience eolian stripping, which becomes weathering-limited as lags develop...
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Comparison of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's Pancam (0.4 to 1.0 ??m) and Mars Express Observatoire pour la Mineralogie l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activite?? (OMEGA) (0.4 to 2.5 ??m) spectral reflectance data over Spirit's traverses shows that Gusev cratered plains are dominated by nanophase ferric-oxide-rich dust covering weakly altered basaltic sands. This interpretation is also consistent with both observations from OMEGA data covering plains beyond the traverse region and interpretations of data from the other payload instruments on the Spirit Rover. OMEGA observations of relatively low albedo regions where dust has presumably been stripped by dust devils show negative spectral reflectance slopes from 1.5 to...