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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2014-11-22
    Description: The Rocknest aeolian deposit is similar to aeolian features analyzed by the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) Spirit and Opportunity. The fraction of sand 〈150 micron in size contains approx. 55% crystalline material consistent with a basaltic heritage, and approx. 45% X-ray amorphous material. The amorphous component of Rocknest is Fe-rich and Si-poor, and is the host of the volatiles (H2O, O2, SO2, CO2, and Cl) detected by the Surface Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument and of the fine-grained nanophase oxide (npOx) component first described from basaltic soils analyzed by MER. 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.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: ARC-E-DAA-TN11260
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Mars rover Curiosity has encountered silica-enriched bedrock (as strata and as veins and associated halos of alteration) in the largely basaltic Murray Fm. of Mt. Sharp in Gale Crater. Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) investigations of the Murray Fm. revealed decreasing Mg, Ca, Mn, Fe, and Al, and higher S, as silica increased (Fig. 1). A positive correlation between SiO2 and TiO2 (up to 74.4 and 1.7 wt %, respectively) suggests that these two insoluble elements were retained while acidic fluids leached more soluble elements. Other evidence also supports a silica-retaining, acidic alteration model for the Murray Fm., including low trace element abundances consistent with leaching, and the presence of opaline silica and jarosite determined by CheMin. Phosphate stability is a key component of this model because PO4 3- is typically soluble in acidic water and is likely a mobile ion in diagenetic fluids (pH less than 5). However, the Murray rocks are not leached of P; they have variable P2O5 (Fig. 1) ranging from average Mars (0.9 wt%) up to the highest values in Gale Crater (2.5 wt%). Here we evaluate APXS measurements of Murray Fm. bedrock and veins with respect to phosphate stability in acidic fluids as a test of the acidic alteration model for the Lower Mt. Sharp rocks.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-35224 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 21-25 Mar. 2016; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Alpha Particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) on the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater [1] is the 4th such instrument to have landed on Mars [2]. Along the rover's traverse down-section toward Glenelg (through sol 102), the APXS has examined four rocks and one soil [3]. Gale rocks are geochemically diverse and expand the range of Martian rock compositions to include high volatile and alkali contents (up to 3.0 wt% K2O) with high Fe and Mn (up to 29.2% FeO*).
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-27938 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 18-22 Mar. 2013; TheWoodlands, TX; United States
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Sedimentary rocks in Gale Crater on Mars indicate a varied provenance with a range of alteration and weathering [1, 2]. Geochemical trends identified in basaltic and alkalic sedimentary rocks by the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the Mars rover Curiosity represent a complex interplay of igneous, sedimentary, weathering, and alteration processes. Assessing the relative importance of these processes is challenging with unknown compositions for parent sediment sources and with the constraints provided by Curiosity's instruments. We therefore look to Mars analogues on Earth where higher-resolution analyses and geologic context can constrain interpretations of Gale Crater geochemical observations. We selected Maunakea (AKA Mauna Kea) and Kohala volcanoes, Hawai'i, for an analogue study because they are capped by post-shield transitional basalts and alkalic lavas (hawaiites, mugearites) with compositions similar to Gale Crater [1, 3]. Our aim was to characterize Hawaiian geochemical trends associated with igneous processes, sediment transport, weathering, and alteration. Here, we present initial results and discuss implications for selected trends observed by APXS in Gale Crater.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-38843 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 20-24 Mar. 2017; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-07-19
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity has traversed up section through approximately 100 m of sedimentary rocks deposited in fluvial, deltaic, lacustrine, and eolian environments (Bradbury group and overlying Mount Sharp group). The Stimson formation unconformably overlies a lacustrine mudstone at the base of the Mount Sharp group and has been interpreted to be a cross-bedded sandstone of lithified eolian dunes. Unaltered Stimson sandstone has a basaltic composition similar to the average Mars crustal composition, but is more variable and ranges to lower K and higher Al. Fluids passing through alteration "halos" adjacent to fractures have altered the chemistry and mineralogy of the sandstone. Elemental mass gains and losses in the alteration halos were quantified using immobile element concentrations, i.e., Ti (taus). Alteration halos have elemental gains in Si, Ca, S, and P and large losses in Al, Fe, Mn, Mg, Na, K, Ni, and Zn. Mineralogy of the altered Stimson is dominated by Ca-sulfates, Si-rich X-ray amorphous materials along with plagioclase feldspar, magnetite, and pyroxenes. The igneous phases were less abundant in the altered sandstone with a lower pyroxene/plagioclase feldspar. Large elemental losses suggest acidic fluids initially removed these elements (Al mobile under acid conditions). Enrichments in Si, Ca, and S suggest secondary fluids (possibly alkaline) passed through these fractures leaving behind X-ray amorphous Si and Ca-sulfates. The mechanism for the large elemental gains in P is unclear. The geochemistry and mineralogy of the altered sandstone suggests a complicated diagenetic history with multiple episodes of aqueous alteration under a variety of environmental conditions (e.g., acidic, alkaline).
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-37384 , AGU Fall Meeting 2016; 12-16 Dec. 2016; San Francisco, CA; United States
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-07-30
    Description: Characterizing the history of aqueous activity at the martian surface has been an objective of the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) and the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). Although the geologic context of the three landing sites are different, comparisons across the datasets can provide greater insight than using data from one mission alone. The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) is common to all three rovers (Spirit at Gusev crater, Opportunity at Meridiani Planum, and Curiosity at Gale crater) and provides a consistent basis for these comparisons. Soil and Dust: Fine grained basaltic soils and dust are remarkably uniform in chemical composition across multiple landing sites. These similarities in the concentrations of major, minor, and a few trace elements (Fig. 1) are indicative of planet-wide consistency in the composition of source materials for the soils. S and Cl vary by a factor of two in the soil and dust, but there is no clear association with any bulk cation (e.g., no correlation between S and total Ca, Mg, or Fe in soils). These volatile elements, however, are clearly associated with the nanophase-ferric iron component in the soil established by Mssbauer spectroscopy [1,2]. S and Cl likely originated as acidic species from volcanic out-gassing and subsequently coalesced on dust and sand grain surfaces, possibly with an affinity towards Fe3+ sites. Importantly, given the mobility of S and Cl in aqueous exposures, soil samples maintaining the typical molar S/Cl ratio of ~3.7:1 indicate minimal interactions with liquid water after the addition of S and Cl. In contrast to this well-established baseline, soil samples have been discovered at all three landing sites with atypical S/Cl ratios (e.g., subsurface soils), indicative of a more complex aqueous history.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-E-DAA-TN70395 , International Conference on Mars; Jul 22, 2019 - Jul 25, 2019; Pasadena, CA; United States
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