Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:25 PM
MINERALOGY AT GUSEV CRATER AND MERIDIANI PLANUM FROM THE MOESSBAUER SPECTROMETERS ON THE MARS EXPLORATION ROVERS
The Moessbauer spectrometers on the twin MER rovers Spirit and Opportunity have provided significant new information on the distribution of iron among its oxidation states, the identifica-tion of the mineralogical composition of iron-bearing phases, and the distribution of iron among those phases for rock and soil at Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum. The plains of Gusev Crater are dominated by olivine-bearing basalt (approximately Fo(60)) and Fe(3+)/Fe(total)=0.1 - 0.5. The oxide mineral generally present is magnetite. In contrast, initial results for the Columbia Hills are consistent with the presence of hematite and a ferrous iron phase, possibly pyroxene. Gusev spectra also have a ferric doublet (not jarosite) that is tentatively associated with nano-phase ferric oxide. A wider diversity of material is present at Meridiani Planum. Significantly, jarosite-bearing outcrop is present throughout the region, with good exposures in impact craters such as Eagle and Endurance (Fe(3+)/Fe(total) ~ 0.9). The Moessbauer identification of jarosite (a hydroxyl-bearing sulfate mineral) is evidence for aqueous, acid-sulfate processes on Mars. Hematite is observed within the outcrop matrix and in the spheroidal particles (Blueberries) found within the outcrop and as a surface lag. An isolated rock (Bounce Rock) was the only sam-ple at either landing site whose iron-bearing phase was dominated by pyroxene. The basaltic sand in the central portion of Eagle crater, in the intercrater plains, and between slabs of outcrop at both Eagle and Endurance craters is olivine-bearing basalt. The widespread occurrence of oli-vine-bearing basalt at both MER landing sites implies that physical, rather than chemical, weath-ering processes dominate at the surface of contemporary Mars.