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 . 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.
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 21-25 Mar. 2016; The Woodlands, TX; United States