Research Article

Curiosity at Gale Crater, Mars: Characterization and Analysis of the Rocknest Sand Shadow

Science  27 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6153,
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239505

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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.

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