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Published January 2018 | Published
Journal Article Open

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Bagnold Dunes campaign, Phase I: Overview and introduction to the special issue


The Bagnold dunes in Gale Crater, Mars, are the first active aeolian dune field explored in situ on another planet. The Curiosity rover visited the Bagnold dune field to understand modern winds, aeolian processes, rates, and structures; to determine dune material composition, provenance, and the extent and type of compositional sorting; and to collect knowledge that informs the interpretation of past aeolian processes that are preserved in the Martian sedimentary rock record. The Curiosity rover conducted a coordinated campaign of activities lasting 4 months, interspersed with other rover activities, and employing all of the rover's science instruments and several engineering capabilities. Described in 13 manuscripts and summarized here, the major findings of the Bagnold Dunes Campaign, Phase I, include the following: the characterization of and explanation for a distinctive, meter-scale size of sinuous aeolian bedform formed in the high kinetic viscosity regime of Mars' thin atmosphere; articulation and evaluation of a grain splash model that successfully explains the occurrence of saltation even at wind speeds below the fluid threshold; determination of the dune sands' basaltic mineralogy and crystal chemistry in comparison with other soils and sedimentary rocks; and characterization of chemically distinctive volatile reservoirs in sand-sized versus dust-sized fractions of Mars soil, including two volatile-bearing types of amorphous phases.

Additional Information

©2017. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. Received 24 JUL 2017; Accepted 8 SEP 2017; Accepted article online 18 SEP 2017. Many thanks to MSL's Aeolian Working Group for their conception of the campaign as well as MSL's entire operations team for its implementation. Particular thanks to Lori Fenton and Matt Chojnacki for serving as editors for the Bagnold special issue and to the JGR-Planets editors and staff, particularly Steve Hauck and Carol Manix, for their support. The formal reviews by Kirby Runyon and Nick Lancaster and readings of drafts by Agnes Cousin, Mathieu Lapotre, Jason Van Beek, and Ashwin Vasavada improved this manuscript and are appreciated. Thanks to Horton Newsom and Dave Rubin for the photos of Nathan Bridges and Stephen Bagnold for the photo of Ralph Bagnold. Bridges was funded by NASA as a Co-I on the MSL ChemCam team. Ehlmann was funded by NASA's MSL Participating Scientist program. This review contains no new data, and the reader should refer to the data statements in the manuscripts cited. All data from the MSL mission are available online at the NASA Planetary Data System Geosciences Node.

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Published - Bridges_et_al-2018-Journal_of_Geophysical_Research__Planets.pdf


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October 17, 2023