Special Research Articles

Mineralogy at Meridiani Planum from the Mini-TES Experiment on the Opportunity Rover

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Science  03 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5702, pp. 1733-1739
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104909

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The Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) on Opportunity investigated the mineral abundances and compositions of outcrops, rocks, and soils at Meridiani Planum. Coarse crystalline hematite and olivine-rich basaltic sands were observed as predicted from orbital TES spectroscopy. Outcrops of aqueous origin are composed of 15 to 35% by volume magnesium and calcium sulfates [a high-silica component modeled as a combination of glass, feldspar, and sheet silicates (∼20 to 30%)], and hematite; only minor jarosite is identified in Mini-TES spectra. Mini-TES spectra show only a hematite signature in the millimeter-sized spherules. Basaltic materials have more plagioclase than pyroxene, contain olivine, and are similar in inferred mineral composition to basalt mapped from orbit. Bounce rock is dominated by clinopyroxene and is close in inferred mineral composition to the basaltic martian meteorites. Bright wind streak material matches global dust. Waterlain rocks covered by unaltered basaltic sands suggest a change from an aqueous environment to one dominated by physical weathering.

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