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In Situ Geochronology on Mars and the Development of Future Instrumentation

Cohen, Barbara A. and Malespin, Charles A. and Farley, Kenneth A. and Martin, Peter E. and Cho, Yuichiro and Mahaffy, Paul R. (2019) In Situ Geochronology on Mars and the Development of Future Instrumentation. Astrobiology, 19 (11). pp. 1303-1314. ISSN 1531-1074. doi:10.1089/ast.2018.1871.

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We review the in situ geochronology experiments conducted by the Mars Science Laboratory mission's Curiosity rover to understand when the Gale Crater rocks formed, underwent alteration, and became exposed to cosmogenic radiation. These experiments determined that the detrital minerals in the sedimentary rocks of Gale are ∼4 Ga, consistent with their origin in the basalts surrounding the crater. The sedimentary rocks underwent fluid-moderated alteration 2 Gyr later, which may mark the closure of aqueous activity at Gale Crater. Over the past several million years, wind-driven processes have dominated, denuding the surfaces by scarp retreat. The Curiosity measurements validate radiometric dating techniques on Mars and guide the way for future instrumentation to make more precise measurements that will further our understanding of the geological and astrobiological history of the planet.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Cohen, Barbara A.0000-0001-5896-5903
Malespin, Charles A.0000-0002-5852-5016
Farley, Kenneth A.0000-0002-7846-7546
Martin, Peter E.0000-0003-4243-2090
Cho, Yuichiro0000-0003-2749-2204
Mahaffy, Paul R.0000-0003-1896-1726
Additional Information:© 2019 Barbara A. Cohen; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. This Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License ( which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited. Submitted 23 March 2018; Accepted 15 June 2019; Online Ahead of Print: July 30, 2019. This work was enabled by the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and SAM operations, engineering, and scientific teams. B.A.C. and K.A.F. acknowledge support from the NASA MSL Participating Scientist Program. Data from these experiments are archived in the Planetary Data System ( The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their insightful reviews that significantly strengthened this article. We used the NASA Astrophysical Data Service ( No competing financial interests exist.
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Subject Keywords:Mars; Mars rovers; Geochronology; Instrument development
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190805-144122998
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Official Citation:In Situ Geochronology on Mars and the Development of Future Instrumentation. Barbara A. Cohen, Charles A. Malespin, Kenneth A. Farley, Peter E. Martin, Yuichiro Cho, and Paul R. Mahaffy Astrobiology 2019 19:11, 1303-1314.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:97660
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:05 Aug 2019 22:00
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:33

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