Special Reports

Soils of Eagle Crater and Meridiani Planum at the Opportunity Rover Landing Site

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Science  03 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5702, pp. 1723-1726
DOI: 10.1126/science.1105127

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The soils at the Opportunity site are fine-grained basaltic sands mixed with dust and sulfate-rich outcrop debris. Hematite is concentrated in spherules eroded from the strata. Ongoing saltation exhumes the spherules and their fragments, concentrating them at the surface. Spherules emerge from soils coated, perhaps from subsurface cementation, by salts. Two types of vesicular clasts may represent basaltic sand sources. Eolian ripples, armored by well-sorted hematite-rich grains, pervade Meridiani Planum. The thickness of the soil on the plain is estimated to be about a meter. The flatness and thin cover suggest that the plain may represent the original sedimentary surface.

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