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.
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration