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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landed in Gale crater in August 2012 to study the layered sediments of lower Aeolis Mons (i.e., Mount Sharp), which have signatures of phyllosilicates, hydrated sulfates, and iron oxides in orbital visible/near-infrared observations. The observed mineralogy within the stratigraphy, from phyllosilicates in lower units to sulfates in higher units, suggests an evolution in the environments in which these secondary phases formed. Curiosity is currently investigating the sedimentary structures, geochemistry, and mineralogy of the Murray formation, the lowest exposed unit of Mount Sharp. The Murray formation is dominated by laminated lacustrine mudstone and is approx.200 m thick. Curiosity previously investigated lacustrine mudstone early in the mission at Yellowknife Bay, which represents the lowest studied stratigraphic unit. Here, we present the minerals identified in lacus-trine mudstone from Yellowknife Bay and the Murray formation. We discuss trends in mineralogy within the stratigraphy and the implications for ancient lacustrine environments, diagenesis, and sediment sources.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-38733 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 20-24 Mar. 2017; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Phyllosilicates on Mars are thought to have formed under neutral to alkaline conditions during Mars' earliest Noachian geologic era (approx. 4.1-3.7 Gya). Sulfate formation, on the other hand, requires more acidic conditions which are thought to have occurred later during Mars' Hesperian era (approx. 3.7-3.0 Gya). Therefore, regions on Mars where phyllosilicates and sulfates are found in close proximity to each other provide evidence for the geologic and aqueous conditions during this global transition. Both phyllosilicates and sulfates form in the presence of water and thus give clues to the aqueous history of Mars and its potential for habitability. Phyllosilicates that formed during the Noachian era may have been weathered by the prevailing acidic conditions that characterize the Hesperian. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to characterize the alteration products resulting from acid-sulfate weathered phyllosilicates in laboratory experiments. This study focuses on two phyllosilicates commonly identified with sulfates on Mars: nontronite and saponite. We also compare our results to observations of phyllosilicates and sulfates on Mars to better understand the formation process of sulfates in close proximity to phyllosilicates on Mars and constrain the aqueous conditions of these regions on Mars.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-32874 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 16-20 Mar. 2015; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Phyllosilicates on Mars are thought to have formed during Mars' earliest Noachian geologic era (approx. 4.1-3.7 Ga). Sulfate formation, on the other hand, requires more acidic conditions which are thought to have occurred later during Mars' Hesperian era (approx. 3.7-3.0 Ga). Therefore, regions on Mars where phyllosilicates and sulfates are found in close proximity to each other provide evidence for the aqueous conditions during this global transition. Both phyllosilicates and sulfates form in the presence of water and thus give clues to the aqueous history of Mars and its potential for habitability. Phyllosilicates that formed during the Noachian era would have been weathered by the prevailing acidic conditions that define the Hesperian. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to characterize the alteration products of acid-sulfate weathered phyllosilicates in laboratory experiments, focusing on the Fe/Mg-smectites commonly identified on Mars. We also compare our results to observations of phyllosilicates and sulfates on Mars in regions such as Endeavour Crater and Mawrth Vallis to understand the formation process of sulfates and constrain the aqueous history of these regions.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-35219 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 21-25 Mar. 2016; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity has been exploring outcrop and regolith in Gale crater since August 6, 2012. During this exploration, the mission has collected 10 samples for mineralogical analysis by X-ray diffraction (XRD), using the CheMin instrument. The CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy) instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity uses a CCD detector and a Co-anode tube source to acquire both mineralogy (from the pat-tern of Co diffraction) and chemical information (from energies of fluoresced X-rays). A detailed description of CheMin is provided in [1]. As part of the rover checkout after landing, the first sample selected for analysis was an eolian sand deposit (the Rocknest "sand shadow"). This sample was selected in part to characterize unconsolidated eolian regolith, but primarily to prove performance of the scoop collection system on the rover. The focus of the mission after Rocknest was on the consolidated sediments of Gale crater, so all of the nine subsequent samples were collected by drilling into bedrock com-posed of lithified sedimentary materials, including mudstone and sandstone. No scoop samples have been collected since Rocknest, but at the time this abstract was written the mission stands poised to use the scoop again, to collect active dune sands from the Bagnold dune field. Several abstracts at this conference outline the Bagnold dune campaign and summarize preliminary results from analyses on approach to the Namib dune sampling site. In this abstract we review the mineralogy of Rocknest, contrast that with the mineralogy of local sediments, and anticipate what will be learned by XRD analysis of Bagnold dune sands.
    Keywords: Geophysics
    Type: JSC-CN-35258 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 21-25 Mar. 2016; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Clay minerals have been identified on Mars' oldest (Noachian) terrain and their presence suggests long-term water-rock interactions. The most commonly identified clay minerals on Mars to date are nontronite (Fe-smectite) and montmorillonite (Al-smectite) [1], both of which contain variable amounts of water both adsorbed on their surface and within their structural layers. Over Mars' history, these clay miner-al-water assemblages may have served as nutrient sources for microbial life.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-39020 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 20-24 Mar. 2017; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Final Document is attached. Introduction: The Mars Science Laboratory Curi-osity rover landed in Gale crater in August 2012 to search for habitable enironments preserved in the rocks and sediments on the lower slopes of Aeolis Mons (i.e., Mount Sharp). Along the traverse, Curiosity encountered an active aeolian sand sheet, informally known as the Bagnold dune field. Orbital CRISM vis/near-IR data suggest that there are varying abun-dances of olivine and pyroxene across the dune field, where the barchan dunes on the edge of the dune field have stronger olivine signatures than the linear dunes.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-E-DAA-TN53588 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 19-23 Mar. 2018; Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity began investigating the layered deposits of Gale Crater, Mars, in August 2012. Among the many science instruments on the rover, the CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy) X-ray diffractometer (XRD) has been useful in definitively characterizing the mineralogy of samples collected by the rover.
    Keywords: Metals and Metallic Materials
    Type: LPI Contrib. No. 2083-1986 , JSC-E-DAA-TN53579 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC); 19-23 Mar. 2018; Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover, Curiosity, analyzes samples collected in Gale Crater, Mars using X-ray diffraction (XRD). One site of interest is the Oudam drill sample that CheMin analyzed on sols 1362, 1365, and 1369, which contains ~3 wt% phyllosilicate. XRD analysis of this phyllosilicate suggests a 2:1 Fe3+-smectite, akin to nontronite.
    Keywords: Metals and Metallic Materials
    Type: JSC-E-DAA-TN53586 , LPI Contrib. No. 2083-3001 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC); 19-23 Mar. 2018; Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-07-19
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landed in Gale crater in August 2012 to characterize modern and ancient surface environments. Curiosity executed a two-phase campaign to study the morphology, activity, physical properties, and chemical and mineralogical composition of the Bagnold Dune Field, an active eolian dune field on the lower slopes of Aeolis Mons (Mount Sharp). Detectable aspects of dune sand mineralogy have been examined from orbit with the visible/short-wave infrared spectrometer CRISMand the thermal-infrared spectrometers THEMIS and TES. CRISM data demonstrate variations in plagioclase, pyroxene, and olivine abundances across the dune field. Curiosity analyzed sediments from two locations in the dune field to evaluate the causes of the mineralogical differences observed from orbit. The Gobabeb sample was collected from Namib Dune, a barchanoidal dune on the upwind margin of the dune field, and the Ogunquit Beach sample was collected from the Mount Desert Island sand patch located downwind from Namib. These samples were sieved to 〈150 m and delivered to the CheMin X-ray diffraction instrument for quantitative mineralogical analysis. CRISM-derived mineralogy of the Namib Dune and Mount Desert Island and CheMin-derived mineralogy of the Gobabeb and Ogunquit Beach samples can be used in a value-added manner to interpret grain segregation at the bedform to dune-field scale and evaluate contributions from local sediment sources. Models of CRISM data demonstrate that Mount Desert Island is more enriched in olivine and less enriched in plagioclase than Namib dune, suggesting that fine-grained mafic sediments are preferentially mobilized downwind. Curiosity data indicate olivine also forms a coarse lag on the lee sides of barchanoidal dunes. Minor abundances of hematite, quartz, and anhydrite and small differences in the crystal chemistry of plagioclase and pyroxene derived from CheMin data suggest that sediments from the underlying lacustrine rocks also contribute to the Bagnold sands.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-E-DAA-TN61288 , Geological Society of America Annual Meeting; 4-7 Nov. 2018; Indianapolis, IN; United States
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-07-19
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover arrived at Mars in August 2012 with a primary goal of characterizing the habitability of ancient and modern environments. Curiosity landed in Gale crater to study a sequence of ~3.5 Ga old sedimentary rocks that, based on orbital visible/near-infrared reflectance spectra, contain secondary minerals that suggest deposition and/or alteration in liquid water. The sedimentary sequence that comprises the lower slopes of Mount Sharp within Gale crater may preserve a dramatic shift on early Mars from a relatively warm and wet climate to a cold and dry climate based on a transition from smectite-bearing strata to sulfate-bearing strata. The rover is equipped with cameras and geochemical and mineralogical instruments to examine the sedimentology and identify compositional changes within the stratigraphy. These observations provide information about variations in depositional and diagenetic environments over time. The Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument is one of two internal laboratories on Curiosity and includes a transmission X-ray diffractometer (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer with a Co-K source. CheMin measures loose sediment samples scooped from the surface and drilled rock powders. The XRD provides quantitative mineralogy of scooped and drilled samples to a detection limit of ~1 wt.%. Curiosity has traversed 〉20 km since landing and has primarily been exploring the site of a predominantly ancient lake environment fed by groundwater and streams emanating from the crater rim. Results from CheMin demonstrate an incredible diversity in the mineralogy of fluvio-lacustrine rocks that signify variations in source rock composition, sediment transport mechanisms, and depositional and diagenetic fluid chemistry. Abundant trioctahedral smectite and magnetite at the base of the section may have formed from low-salinity pore waters with a circumneutral pH within lake sediments. A transition to dioctahedral smectite, hematite, and Ca-sulfate going up section suggests a change to more saline and oxidative aqueous conditions within the lake waters themselves and/or within diagenetic fluids. The primary minerals detected in fluvio-lacustrine samples by CheMin also suggest diversity in the igneous source regions for the sediments, where abundant pyroxene and plagioclase in most samples suggest a basaltic protolith, but sanidine and pyroxene in one sample may have been sourced from a potassic trachyte, and tridymite and sanidine in another sample may have been transported from a rhyolitic source. Crystal chemistry of major phases in each sample have been calculated from refined unit-cell parameters, providing further constraints on aqueous alteration processes and igneous protoliths for the sediments. Perhaps one of the biggest mysteries revealed by the CheMin instrument is the high abundance of X-ray amorphous materials (15 to 73 wt.%) in all samples measured to date. X-ray amorphous materials were detected by CheMin based on the observation of broad humps in XRD patterns. How these materials formed, their composition, and why they persist near the martian surface remain a topic of debate. The sedimentology and composition of the rocks analyzed by Curiosity demonstrate that habitable environments persisted intermittently on the surface or in the subsurface of Gale crater for perhaps more than a billion years.
    Keywords: Space Sciences (General)
    Type: JSC-E-DAA-TN68597 , Mineralogical Society of America Centennial (1919-2019) Symposium; 20-21 Jun. 2019; Washington, DC; United States
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