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.
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 16-20 Mar. 2015; The Woodlands, TX; United States