[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Mars Science Laboratory landed in Gale crater on Mars in August 2012, and the Curiosity rover then began field studies on its drive toward Mount Sharp, a central peak made of ancient sediments. CheMin is one of ten instruments on or inside the rover, all designed to provide detailed information on the rocks, soils and atmosphere in this region. CheMin is a miniaturized X-ray diffraction/X-ray fluorescence (XRD/XRF) instrument that uses transmission geometry with an energy-discriminating CCD detector. CheMin uses onboard standards for XRD and XRF calibration, and beryl:quartz mixtures constitute the primary XRD standards. Four samples have been analysed by CheMin, namely a soil sample, two samples drilled from mudstones and a sample drilled from a sandstone. Rietveld and full-pattern analysis of the XRD data reveal a complex mineralogy, with contributions from parent igneous rocks, amorphous components and several minerals relating to aqueous alteration. In particular, the mudstone samples all contain one or more phyllosilicates consistent with alteration in liquid water. In addition to quantitative mineralogy, Rietveld refinements also provide unit-cell parameters for the major phases, which can be used to infer the chemical compositions of individual minerals and, by difference, the composition of the amorphous component.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fracture fill composition in Esperance boxworks is consistent with montmorillonite + silica; a dark coating is rich in mafic sulfates; both potentially habitable.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sedimentary rocks examined by the Curiosity rover at Yellowknife Bay, Mars, were derived from sources that evolved from approximately average Martian crustal composition to one influenced by alkaline basalts. No evidence of chemical weathering is preserved indicating arid, possibly cold, paleoclimates and rapid erosion/deposition. Absence of predicted geochemical variations indicates that magnetite and phyllosilicates formed by diagenesis under low temperature, circum-neutral pH, rock-dominated aqueous conditions. High spatial resolution analyses of diagenetic features, including concretions, raised ridges and fractures, indicate that they are composed of iron- and halogen-rich components, magnesium-iron-chlorine-rich components, and hydrated calcium-sulfates, respectively. Composition of a cross-cutting dike-like feature is consistent with sedimentary intrusion. Geochemistry of these sedimentary rocks provides further evidence for diverse depositional and diagenetic sedimentary environments during the early history of Mars.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sedimentary rocks at Yellowknife Bay (Gale crater) on Mars include mudstone sampled by the Curiosity rover. The samples, John Klein and Cumberland, contain detrital basaltic minerals, calcium sulfates, iron oxide or hydroxides, iron sulfides, amorphous material, and trioctahedral smectites. The John Klein smectite has basal spacing of ~10 angstroms, indicating little interlayer hydration. The Cumberland smectite has basal spacing at both ~13.2 and ~10 angstroms. The larger spacing suggests a partially chloritized interlayer or interlayer magnesium or calcium facilitating H2O retention. Basaltic minerals in the mudstone are similar to those in nearby eolian deposits. However, the mudstone has far less Fe-forsterite, possibly lost with formation of smectite plus magnetite. Late Noachian/Early Hesperian or younger age indicates that clay mineral formation on Mars extended beyond Noachian time.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity scooped samples of soil from the Rocknest aeolian bedform in Gale crater. Analysis of the soil with the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) x-ray diffraction (XRD) instrument revealed plagioclase (~An57), forsteritic olivine (~Fo62), augite, and pigeonite, with minor K-feldspar, magnetite, quartz, anhydrite, hematite, and ilmenite. The minor phases are present at, or near, detection limits. The soil also contains 27 ± 14 weight percent x-ray amorphous material, likely containing multiple Fe(3+)- and volatile-bearing phases, including possibly a substance resembling hisingerite. The crystalline component is similar to the normative mineralogy of certain basaltic rocks from Gusev crater on Mars and of martian basaltic meteorites. The amorphous component is similar to that found on Earth in places such as soils on the Mauna Kea volcano, Hawaii.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Rocknest aeolian deposit is similar to aeolian features analyzed by the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) Spirit and Opportunity. The fraction of sand <150 micrometers in size contains ~55% crystalline material consistent with a basaltic heritage and ~45% x-ray amorphous material. The amorphous component of Rocknest is iron-rich and silicon-poor and is the host of the volatiles (water, oxygen, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and chlorine) detected by the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument and of the fine-grained nanophase oxide component first described from basaltic soils analyzed by MERs. The similarity between soils and aeolian materials analyzed at Gusev Crater, Meridiani Planum, and Gale Crater implies locally sourced, globally similar basaltic materials or globally and regionally sourced basaltic components deposited locally at all three locations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: “Jake_M,” the first rock analyzed by the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer instrument on the Curiosity rover, differs substantially in chemical composition from other known martian igneous rocks: It is alkaline (textgreater15% normative nepheline) and relatively fractionated. Jake_M is compositionally similar to terrestrial mugearites, a rock type typically found at ocean islands and continental rifts. By analogy with these comparable terrestrial rocks, Jake_M could have been produced by extensive fractional crystallization of a primary alkaline or transitional magma at elevated pressure, with or without elevated water contents. The discovery of Jake_M suggests that alkaline magmas may be more abundant on Mars than on Earth and that Curiosity could encounter even more fractionated alkaline rocks (for example, phonolites and trachytes).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ChemCam instrument, which provides insight into martian soil chemistry at the submillimeter scale, identified two principal soil types along the Curiosity rover traverse: a fine-grained mafic type and a locally derived, coarse-grained felsic type. The mafic soil component is representative of widespread martian soils and is similar in composition to the martian dust. It possesses a ubiquitous hydrogen signature in ChemCam spectra, corresponding to the hydration of the amorphous phases found in the soil by the CheMin instrument. This hydration likely accounts for an important fraction of the global hydration of the surface seen by previous orbital measurements. ChemCam analyses did not reveal any significant exchange of water vapor between the regolith and the atmosphere. These observations provide constraints on the nature of the amorphous phases and their hydration.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Observations by the Mars Science Laboratory Mast Camera (Mastcam) in Gale crater reveal isolated outcrops of cemented pebbles (2 to 40 millimeters in diameter) and sand grains with textures typical of fluvial sedimentary conglomerates. Rounded pebbles in the conglomerates indicate substantial fluvial abrasion. ChemCam emission spectra at one outcrop show a predominantly feldspathic composition, consistent with minimal aqueous alteration of sediments. Sediment was mobilized in ancient water flows that likely exceeded the threshold conditions (depth 0.03 to 0.9 meter, average velocity 0.20 to 0.75 meter per second) required to transport the pebbles. Climate conditions at the time sediment was transported must have differed substantially from the cold, hyper-arid modern environment to permit aqueous flows across several kilometers. Going to Mars The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft containing the Curiosity rover, was launched from Earth in November 2011 and arrived at Gale crater on Mars in August 2012. Zeitlin et al. (p. 1080) report measurements of the energetic particle radiation environment inside the spacecraft during its cruise to Mars, confirming the hazard likely to be posed by this radiation to astronauts on a future potential trip to Mars. Williams et al. (p. 1068, see the Perspective by Jerolmack) report the detection of sedimentary conglomerates (pebbles mixed with sand and turned to rock) at Gale crater. The rounding of the rocks suggests abrasion of the pebbles as they were transported by flowing water several kilometers or more from their source.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A principal goal of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity is
to identify and characterize past habitable environments on Mars.
Determination of the mineralogical and chemical composition of Martian
rocks and soils constrains their formation and alteration pathways,
providing information on climate and habitability through time. The
CheMin X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) instrument
on MSL will return accurate mineralogical identifications and
quantitative phase abundances for scooped soil samples and drilled rock
powders collected at Gale Crater during Curiosity's 1-Mars-year nominal
mission. The instrument has a Co X-ray source and a cooled
charge-coupled device (CCD) detector arranged in transmission geometry
with the sample. CheMin's angular range of 5∘ to
50∘ 2 θ with <0.35∘ 2 θ
resolution is sufficient to identify and quantify virtually all
minerals. CheMin's XRF requirement was descoped for technical and
budgetary reasons. However, X-ray energy discrimination is still
required to separate Co K α from Co K β and Fe K α
photons. The X-ray energy-dispersive histograms (EDH) returned along
with XRD for instrument evaluation should be useful in identifying
elements Z>13 that are contained in the sample. The CheMin XRD is
equipped with internal chemical and mineralogical standards and 27
reusable sample cells with either Mylar® or
Kapton® windows to accommodate acidic-to-basic
environmental conditions. The CheMin flight model (FM) instrument will
be calibrated utilizing analyses of common samples against a
demonstration-model (DM) instrument and CheMin-like laboratory
instruments. The samples include phyllosilicate and sulfate minerals
that are expected at Gale crater on the basis of remote sensing
Space Science Reviews 09/2012; 170(1-4):341-399. · 5.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Mars-Moon Exploration, Reconnaissance and Landed Investigation
(MERLIN) will collect orbital and landed measurements that resolve Mars'
moons' composition and origin, and precursor information for future
human exploration of the Mars system.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The rover Opportunity has investigated the rim of Endeavour Crater, a large ancient impact crater on Mars. Basaltic breccias produced by the impact form the rim deposits, with stratigraphy similar to that observed at similar-sized craters on Earth. Highly localized zinc enrichments in some breccia materials suggest hydrothermal alteration of rim deposits. Gypsum-rich veins cut sedimentary rocks adjacent to the crater rim. The gypsum was precipitated from low-temperature aqueous fluids flowing upward from the ancient materials of the rim, leading temporarily to potentially habitable conditions and providing some of the waters involved in formation of the ubiquitous sulfate-rich sandstones of the Meridiani region.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MERLIN, an orbital and landed investigation of Deimos, would begin
landed robotic exploration of Mars' moons and of D-type bodies, and
collect information valuable to the planning of future human exploration
of the Mars system.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CheMin is on its way to Mars to provide detailed, in situ measurements
of mineralogy. Laboratory work with the flight hardware and related
instruments characterize the performance capabilities.