Curiosity at Gale Crater, Mars: Characterization and Analysis of the Rocknest Sand Shadow

D. F. Blake*, R. V. Morris, G. Kocurek, S. M. Morrison, R. T. Downs, D. Bish, D. W. Ming, K. S. Edgett, D. Rubin, W. Goetz, M. B. Madsen, R. Sullivan, R. Gellert, I. Campbell, A. H. Treiman, S. M. McLennan, A. S. Yen, J. Grotzinger, D. T. Vaniman, S. J. ChiperaC. N. Achilles, E. B. Rampe, D. Sumner, P-Y Meslin, S. Maurice, O. Forni, O. Gasnault, M. Fisk, M. Schmidt, P. Mahaffy, L. A. Leshin, D. Glavin, A. Steele, C. Freissinet, R. Navarro-Gonzalez, R. A. Yingst, L. C. Kah, N. Bridges, K. W. Lewis, T. F. Bristow, J. D. Farmer, J. A. Crisp, E. M. Stolper, D. J. Des Marais, P. Sarrazin, MSL Science Team

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

279 Citations (Scopus)


The Rocknest aeolian deposit is similar to aeolian features analyzed by the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) Spirit and Opportunity. The fraction of sand <150 micrometers in size contains ~55% crystalline material consistent with a basaltic heritage and ~45% x-ray amorphous material. The amorphous component of Rocknest is iron-rich and silicon-poor and is the host of the volatiles (water, oxygen, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and chlorine) detected by the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument and of the fine-grained nanophase oxide component first described from basaltic soils analyzed by MERs. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1239505
Number of pages8
Issue number6153
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2013

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments: Support from the NASA Mars Science Laboratory Mission is gratefully acknowledged. The chemical and mineralogical data presented here are derived from the archived data sets in the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS), specifically MSL-M-CHEMIN-2-EDR-V1.0 and MSL-M-APXS-2-EDR-V1.0. M.B.M. was funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research/Natural Sciences (Det Frie Forskningsråd Natur og
Univers FNU grants 12-127126 and 11-107019). W.G. acknowledges partial funding by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG grant GO 2288/1-1).
Some of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA.


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