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The Opportunity Rover's Athena science investigation at Meridiani Planum, Mars

Squyres, S. W. and Grotzinger, J. (2004) The Opportunity Rover's Athena science investigation at Meridiani Planum, Mars. Science, 306 (5702). pp. 1698-1703. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.1106171.

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The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has investigated the landing site in Eagle crater and the nearby plains within Meridiani Planum. The soils consist of fine-grained basaltic sand and a surface lag of hematite-rich spherules, spherule fragments, and other granules. Wind ripples are common. Underlying the thin soil layer, and exposed within small impact craters and troughs, are flat-lying sedimentary rocks. These rocks are finely laminated, are rich in sulfur, and contain abundant sulfate salts. Small-scale cross-lamination in some locations provides evidence for deposition in flowing liquid water. We interpret the rocks to be a mixture of chemical and siliciclastic sediments formed by episodic inundation by shallow surface water, followed by evaporation, exposure, and desiccation. Hematite-rich spherules are embedded in the rock and eroding from them. We interpret these spherules to be concretions formed by postdepositional diagenesis, again involving liquid water.

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Grotzinger, J.0000-0001-9324-1257
Additional Information:© 2004 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received 7 October 2004; accepted 2 November 2004. We are deeply indebted to the many hundreds of engineers and scientists—far too numerous to name here—who made the MER Project and the Athena Science Investigation possible. Funding for the MER Project, including most of the Athena Payload, was provided by NASA. The APXS and Mössbauer instruments were funded by the German space agency (DLR), and the magnet array was funded by the Danish government. A portion of the research described in this paper was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA. The MER Project was led with skill and dedication by P. Theisinger, and the development of the MER flight system was led with equal skill and dedication by R. Cook and B. Goldstein. J. Rademacher managed the development of the Mini-TES, APXS, and Mössbauer payload elements, M. Schwochert led the engineering teams for Pancam and the Microscopic Imager, and S. Kondos and M. Johnson managed the development of the RAT. To all of them, and to the hundreds of members of the MER family who have made this adventure such a joy and privilege to be part of, we express our heartfelt and lasting thanks.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)UNSPECIFIED
Danish governmentUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:5702
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20141021-151222689
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:50635
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:21 Oct 2014 22:20
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 18:58

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