Mars Exploration Rover
, Talk:Mars Exploration Rover
, Scientific information from the Mars Exploration Rover mission
Distributions of spherules
: Spherules are concretion
s created in water as a solvent.
: Spherules are rehardened molten rock droplets, created by volcanoes or meteor strikes.
: Location of spherules in the rock matrix is random and evenly spread.
:Quote from Steve Squyres
: "The little spherules like blueberries in a muffin are embedded in this rock and weathering out of it. Three ideas, lapilli, little volcanic hailstones, one possibility. Two, droplets of volcanic glass or impact. We've looked at these things very carefully. Probably concretions. If so, it's pointing towards water."thumb||180px|In the lower left, a spherule can be seen penetrating the interior of a vug
: Rock was formed in water, for instance by precipitation
: Rock were formed by ash deposits.
: Voids found in bedrock resemble "vugs" which are left by eroded away disk-shaped crystals, possible dissolved in a watery environment.
:Quote from Steve Squyres
: Second piece of evidence is that when we looked at it close-up, it was shot through with tabular holes. Familiar forms. When crystals grow within rocks, precipitated from water. If they're tabular, as they grow you can get tabular crystals and water chem changes and they go away or they weather away."
*Sulfates and jarosite
: Water created tell-tale salt chemicals in the rock.
: Chemistry of rocks is determined by volcanic processes.
: Sulfate salts and jarosite mineral were found in the rock. On Earth they are made in standing water (possibly during evaporation).
:Quote from Steve Squyres
: "Next piece of evidence comes from APXS
. We found it looked like a lot of sulfur. That was the outside of the rock. We brought with us a grinding tool, the RAT
and we ground away 2-4 mm and found even more sulfur. Too much to explain by other than that this rock is full of sulfate salts. That's a telltale sign of liquid water. Mini-TES
also found evidence of sulfate salts. Most compelling of all, the Mossbauer spectrometer
in the RATted space showed compelling evidence of Jarosite, an iron sulfate hydrate. Fairly rare, found on earth and had been predicted that it might be found on Mars some day. This is a mineral that you got to have water around to make."thumb|left|Crossbedding features in rock "Last Chance"
On March 23
, NASA announced that they believe that Opportunity
had not landed in a location merely "drenched in water", but on what was once a coastal area. "We think Opportunity
is parked on what was once the shoreline of a salty sea on Mars," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University
The announcement was based on evidence of sedimentary rock
s that are consistent with those formed by water and not wind. "Bedding patterns in some finely layered rocks indicate the sand-sized grains of sediment that eventually bonded together were shaped into ripples by water at least five centimeters (two inches) deep, possibly much deeper, and flowing at a speed of 10 to 50 centimeters (four to 20 inches) per second," said Dr. John Grotzinger, from MIT
. The landing site was likely a salt flat on the edge of a large body of water that was covered by shallow water.
Other evidence includes findings of chlorine
in the rocks which indicates the rocks had at least soaked in mineral-rich water, possibly from underground sources, after they formed. Increased assurance of the bromine findings strengthens the case that rock-forming particles precipitated from surface water as salt concentrations climbed past saturation while water was evaporating.
Spherules and Hematite
Early in the mission, mission scientists were able to prove
that the abundant spherules at Eagle crater were the source of hematite
in the area discovered from orbit.
Hematite thumb|200px|The distribution of hematite in Sinus Meridiani, where Meridiani Planum is located
Geologists were eager to reach a hematite
-rich area (in the center of the picture at right) to closely examine the soil, which may reveal secrets about how the hematite got to this location. Knowing how the hematite on Mars was formed may help scientists characterize the past environment and determine whether that environment provided favorable conditions for life.
"Grey hematite is a mineral indicator of past water," said Dr. Joy Crisp, JPL
project scientist. "It is not always associated with water, but it often is."
Scientists have wanted to find out which of these processes created grey hematite on Mars since 1998, when Mars Global Surveyor
spotted large concentrations of the mineral near the planet's equator
(seen in the left picture). This discovery provided the first mineral evidence that Mars' history may have included water.
"We want to know if the grains of hematite appear to be rounded and cemented together by the action of liquid water or if they're crystals that grew from a volcanic melt," said Crisp. "Is the hematite in layers, which would suggest that it was laid down by water, or in veins in the rock, which would be more characteristic of water having flowed through the rocks."
The next picture shows a mineral map, the first ever made on the surface of another planet, which was generated from a section of the panorama picture overlaid with data taken from the rover's Mini-TES. The Mini-TES spectral data was analyzed in a way that the concentration of the mineral hematite was deduced and its level coded in color. Red and orange mean high concentration, green and blue low concentration. thumb|700px|center|This spectral map of Eagle crater shows hematite.
The next picture shows a hematite abundance "index map" that helps geologists choose hematite-rich locations to visit around Opportunity'
s landing site. Blue dots equal areas low in hematite and red dots equal areas high in hematite.
The colored dots represent data collected by the miniature thermal emission spectrometer on Sol 11, after Opportunity
had rolled off of the lander and the rover was located at the center of the blue semi-circle. (The spectrometer is located on the panoramic camera mast.)thumb|400px|center|A hematite abundance index map of Eagle crater.
The area to the left (with high concentration of hematite) was selected by mission members for further investigation, and called Hematite Slope
During Sol 23 (February 16
successfully trenched the soil at Hematite Slope
and started to investigate the details of the layering.
Spherical Granules (Spherules)
main|Martian thumb|left|190px||This color-enhanced image shows spherical granules.
Microscopic images of the soil
taken by Opportunity
revealed small spherically
. They were first seen on pictures taken on Sol 10, right after the rover drove from the lander onto martian soil.
dug her first trench (Sol 23), pictures of the lower layers showed similar round spherules. But this time they had a very shiny surface that created strong glints and glares. "They appear shiny or polished," said Albert Yen, science team member, during a press conference on February 19
. He said: "Data will hopefully help us figure out what's altering them." At the same press briefing, Dr. Squyres noted this as one of the main question: "Where did those spherules come from, dropped from above or grown in place?"
Mission scientists reported on March 2
that they concluded a survey of the distribution of spherules in the bedrock. They found that they spread out evenly and randomly inside the rocks, and not in layers. This supports the notion that they grew in place, since if their origin was related to volcanic or meteoric episodes one would expect layers of spherules as a "record in time" for each event. This observation was added to the list of evidence
for liquid water being present at this rock site, where it is thought the spherules formed.
Berry Bowlthumb|right|The rock "Berry Bowl"
On March 18
the results of the investigation of the area called "Berry Bowl" was announced. This site is a large rock with a small, bowl-shaped depression, in which a large number of spherules had accumulated. The Moessbauer spectrometer was used to analyze the depression and then the area of the rock right beside it. Any difference in the measured data was then attributed to the material in the spherules. A large difference in the obtained "spectra" was found. "This is the fingerprint of hematite, so we conclude that the major iron-bearing mineral in the berries is hematite," said Daniel Rodionov, a rover science team collaborator from the University of Mainz
. This discovery seems to strengthen the conclusion, that spherules are concretions, grown in wet condition with dissolved iron.
First atmospheric temperature profilethumb|150px|right|Temperature profile taken by MGS
over the MER-B site.]
During a press conference on March 11
, mission scientists presented the first temperature profile of the martian atmosphere ever measured. It was obtained by combining data taken from the Opportunity
Mini-TES camera with data from the TES instrument onboard the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. This was necessary because Opportunity
can only see up to 6 km high, and the MGS camera can not measure data all the way down to the ground. The data was acquired on February 15
(Sol 22) and is split into two data sets: Since the orbiter is in motion, some data was taken while it was approaching the Opportunity
site, other when it was moving away. In the graph, these sets are marked "inbound" (black color) and "outbound" (red color). Also, the dots represent Mini-TES (= rover) data and the straight lines are TES (=orbiter) data.
observed transits of Phobos
and transits of Deimos
across the Sun, and photographed the Earth, which appeared as a bright star in the Martian sky.
A transit of Mercury from Mars
took place on January 12 2005
from about 14:45 UTC
to 23:05 UTC, but camera resolution did not permit seeing Mercury's 6.1" angular diameter.
Transits of Deimos
across the Sun were seen, but at 2' angular diameter, Deimos is about 20 times larger than Mercury's 6.1" angular diameter.
*Exploration of Mars
*Unmanned space mission
*Spirit roverCategory:Mars Exploration RoverCategory:Mars missionsCategory:Robots