John Bridges: Mars Science Laboratory Blog
In addition to the blog, you can find some amazing videos and other content related to the mission, at:
Successful drilling at Buckskin! Like the other drill holes this is showing how thin red Mars is.
We have started drilling at Belkin, first a minidrill hole before the main drill hole. Belkin has been chosen because this sedimentary horizon has some very high silica enrichments. That may have occurred as the Gale sediments were altered by subsurface fluids after burial. As the basaltic composition was altered (as we saw from the clay and Fe oxide at Yellowknife Bay) ultimately a lot of silica is released which can be precipitated at horizons like this.
The science team is considering the next drill target. ChemCam and APXS results suggest that the sediment compositions are changing within the Murray Formation, with more altered compositions.
This NavCam view, from Marias pass, looking toward the crater rim shows how we have started to gain some elevation, we are currently at about -4440 m, we landed on Bradbury Rise at -4500 m.
This MastCam image shows an important close up view of the Stimson sandstone - Pahrump mudstone contact. The light clasts may be sulfate like gypsum, and broken up fragments of the sulfate veins that we have been seeing since Yellowknife Bay. This could be important for understanding the burial and alteration history of the sediments and origin of the veining. There are 2 likely possibilities for the veins either they formed through the alteration of the mudstones or they are the product of dissolution of a pre-existing evaporite salt layer. The association with mudstone (though not exclusively - as some veining is in the coarser sandstones) may indicate that the sulphate was derived through the alteration of the mudstone during burial heating.