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  • Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration  (2,538)
  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-08-14
    Description: Establishing the abundance and physical properties of regolith and boulders on asteroids is crucial for understanding the formation and degradation mechanisms at work on their surfaces. Using images and thermal data from NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, we show that asteroid (101955) Bennu's surface is globally rough, dense with boulders, and low in albedo. The number of boulders is surprising given Bennu's moderate thermal inertia, suggesting that simple models linking thermal inertia to particle size do not adequately capture the complexity relating these properties. At the same time, we find evidence for a wide range of particle sizes with distinct albedo characteristics. Our findings imply that ages of Bennu's surface particles span from the disruption of the asteroid's parent body (boulders) to recent in situ production (micrometre-scale particles).
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN67770 , Nature Astronomy (e-ISSN 2397-3366); 3; 341–351
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  • 2
    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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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Curiosity rover investigated the mineralogy of the Sheepbed mudstone member of the Yellowknife Bay formation in Gale crater. Data from the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) X-ray diffractometer (XRD) helped identify phyllosilicates in the two drilled samples, John Klein and Cumberland. These patterns showed peaks at low angles, consistent with (001) peaks in 2:1 swelling phyllosilicates [1]. Evolved gas analyses (EGA) by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument of these samples confirmed the presence of phyllosilicates through the release of H2O at high temperatures, consistent with dehydroxylation of octahedral OH in phyllosilicates [2]. CheMin data for the phyllosilicates at John Klein and Cumberland show that they are structurally similar in that their (02l) peaks are near 22.5 deg 2theta, suggesting both samples contain trioctahedral 2:1 phyllosilicates [1]. However, the positions of the (001) peaks differ: the phyllosilicate at John Klein has its (001) peak at 10 Angstroms, whereas the phyllosilicate at Cumberland has an (001) peak at 14 Angstroms. Such differences in (001) dspacings can be ascribed to the type of cation in the interlayer site [3]. For example, large monovalent cations (e.g., K(+)) have low hydration energies and readily lose their H2O of hydration, whereas small divalent cations (e.g., Mg(2+)) have high energies of hydration and retain H2O in the phyllosilicate interlayers [3,4]. The goal of this study is to determine whether differences in the interlayer cation composition can explain the CheMin data from John Klein and Cumberland and to use this knowledge to better understand phyllosilicate formation mechanisms.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-30371 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 17-21 Mar. 2014; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity has encountered a variety of sedimentary rocks in Gale crater with different grain sizes, diagenetic features, sedimentary structures, and varying degrees of resistance to erosion. Curiosity has drilled three rocks to date and has analyzed the mineralogy, chemical composition, and textures of the samples with the science payload. The drilled rocks are the Sheepbed mudstone at Yellowknife Bay on the plains of Gale crater (John Klein and Cumberland targets), the Dillinger sandstone at the Kimberley on the plains of Gale crater (Windjana target), and a sedimentary unit in the Pahrump Hills in the lowermost rocks at the base of Mt. Sharp (Confidence Hills target). CheMin is the Xray diffractometer on Curiosity, and its data are used to identify and determine the abundance of mineral phases. Secondary phases can tell us about aqueous alteration processes and, thus, can help to elucidate past aqueous environments. Here, we present the secondary mineralogy of the rocks drilled to date as seen by CheMin and discuss past aqueous environments in Gale crater, the potential cementing agents in each rock, and how amorphous materials may play a role in cementing the sediments.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-32841 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 16-20 Mar. 2015; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration s Human Spaceflight Architecture Team (HAT) has been developing a preliminary Destination Mission Concept (DMC) to assess how a human orbital mission to one or both of the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, might be conducted as a follow-on to a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) and as a possible preliminary step prior to a human landing on Mars. The HAT Mars-Phobos-Deimos (MPD) mission also permits the teleoperation of robotic systems by the crew while in the Mars system. The DMC development activity provides an initial effort to identify the science and exploration objectives and investigate the capabilities and operations concepts required for a human orbital mission to the Mars system. In addition, the MPD Team identified potential synergistic opportunities via prior exploration of other destinations currently under consideration.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-26565 , Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration; 12-14 Jun. 2012; Houston, TX; United States
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Recent discoveries by the Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Express, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft include multiple, tantalizing astrobiological targets representing both past and present environments on Mars. The most desirable path to Mars Sample Return (MSR) would be to collect and return samples from that site which provides the clearest examples of the variety of rock types considered a high priority for sample return (pristine igneous, sedimentary, and hydrothermal). Here we propose an MSR architecture in which the next steps (potentially launched in 2018) would entail a series of smaller missions, including caching, to multiple landing sites to verify the presence of high priority sample return targets through in situ analyses. This alternative architecture to one flagship-class sample caching mission to a single site would preserve a direct path to MSR as stipulated by the Planetary Decadal Survey, while permitting investigation of diverse deposit types and providing comparison of the site of returned samples to other aqueous environments on early Mars
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-26522 , Mars Exploration Meeting; 12-14 Jun. 2012; Houston, TX; United States
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Remote sensing observations meet some limitations when used to study the bulk atmospheric composition of the giant planets of our solar system. A remarkable example of the superiority of in situ probe measurements is illustratedby the exploration of Jupiter, where key measurements such as the determination of the noble gases abundances and the precise measurement of the helium mixing ratio have only been made available through in situ measurements by the Galileo probe. This paper describes the main scienti-c goals to be addressed by the future in situ exploration of Saturn placing the Galileo probe exploration of Jupiter in a broader context and before the future probe exploration of the more remote ice giants. In situ exploration of Saturn's atmosphere addresses two broad themes that are discussedthroughout this paper : rst, the formation history of our solar system and second, the processes at play in planetary atmospheres. In this context, we detail the reasons why measurements of Saturn's bulk elemental and isotopiccomposition would place important constraints on the volatile reservoirs in the protosolar nebula. We also show that the in situ measurement of CO (or any other disequilibrium species that is depleted by reaction with water) in Saturn's upper troposphere may help constraining its bulk OH ratio. We compare predictions of Jupiter and Saturn's bulk compositions from different formation scenarios, and highlight the key measurements required to distinguish competing theories to shed light on giant planet formation as a common process in planetary systems with potential applications to mostextrasolar systems. In situ measurements of Saturn's stratospheric and tropospheric dynamics, chemistry and cloud-forming processes will provide access to phenomena unreachable to remote sensing studies. Dierent mission architectures are envisaged, which would benet from strong international collaborations, all based on an entry probe that would descend through Saturn's stratosphere and troposphere under parachute down to a minimum of 10 bars of atmospheric pressure. We rally discuss the science payload required on a Saturn probe to match the measurement requirements.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN19065 , Planetary and Space Sciences Journal; 104; A; 29-47
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-07-19
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity investigated sedimentary rocks that were deposited in a diversity of fluvio-lacustrine settings. The entire science payload was employed to characterize the mineralogy and chemistry of the Sheepbed mudstone at Yellowknife Bay and the Windjana sandstone at the Kimberley. Data from the CheMin instrument, a transmission Xray diffractometer, were used to determine the quantitative mineralogy of both samples. The Sheepbed mudstone contains detrital basaltic minerals, calcium sulfates, iron oxides or hydroxides, iron sulfides, trioctahedral smectite, and amorphous material. The mineral assemblage and chemical data from APXS suggest that the trioctahedral smectite and magnetite formed authigenically as a result of alteration of olivine. The apparent lack of higher-grade phyllosilicates (e.g., illite and chlorite) and the presence of anhydrite indicate diagenesis at ~50- 80 C. The mineralogy of the Windjana sandstone is different than the Sheepbed mudstone. Windjana contains significant abundances of K-feldspar, low- and high-Ca pyroxenes, magnetite, phyllosilicates, and amorphous material. At least two distinct phyllosilicate phases exist: a 10 phase and a component that is expanded with a peak at ~11.8 . The identity of the expanded phase is currently unknown, but could be a smectite with interlayer H2O, and the 10 phase could be illite or collapsed smectite. Further work is necessary to characterize the phyllosilicates, but the presence of illite could suggest that Windjana experienced burial diagenesis. Candidates for the cementing agents include fine-grained phyllosilicates, Fe-oxides, and/or amorphous material. Interpretations of CheMin data from the Windjana sandstone are ongoing at the time of writing, but we will present an estimate of the composition of the amorphous material from mass balance calculations using the APXS bulk chemistry and quantitative mineralogy from CheMin.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-31874 , American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting; 15-19 Dec. 2014; San Francisco, CA; United States
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-07-19
    Description: The Pahrump Hills region of Gale crater is a approximately 12 millimeter thick section of sedimentary rocks in the Murray formation, interpreted as the basal geological unit of Mount Sharp. The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, arrived at the Pahrump Hills in September, 2014, and performed a detailed six-month investigation of the sedimentary structures, geochemistry, and mineralogy of the area. During the campaign, Curiosity drilled and delivered three rock samples to its internal instruments, including the CheMin XRD/XRF. The three targets, Confidence Hills, Mojave 2, and Telegraph Peak, contain variable amounts of plagioclase, pyroxene, iron oxides, jarosite, phyllosilicates, and X-ray amorphous material. Hematite was predicted at the base of Mount Sharp from orbital visible/near-IR spectroscopy, and CheMin confirmed this detection. The presence of jarosite throughout Pahrump Hills suggests the sediments experienced acid-sulfate alteration, either in-situ or within the source region of the sediments. This acidic leaching environment is in stark contrast to the environment preserved within the Sheepbed mudstone on the plains of Gale crater. The minerals within Sheepbed, including Fe-saponite, indicate these sediments were deposited in a shallow lake with circumneutral pH that may have been habitable.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-33260 , 2015 Goldschmidt Conference; 16-21 Aug. 2015; Prague; Czechoslovakia
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-08-13
    Description: To obtain detailed mineralogy information, the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity carries CheMin, the first X-ray diffraction (XRD) instrument used on a planet other than Earth. CheMin has provided the first in situ XRD analyses of full phase assemblages on another planet.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-31342 , International Conference on Mars; Jul 14, 2014 - Jul 18, 2014; Pasadena, CA; United States
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