John Bridges: Mars Science Laboratory Blog
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We are studying an area called Fracture Town. The aim is to follow up identification of opal to check the extent to which silica has been remobilised by fluids in the sediments. Intriguingly we have found both detrital silica - a mineral called tridymite - probably brought in from silica-rich volcanic rocks, and amorphous silica/opal which might have formed in the sediments.
Opal has also been identified at some of potential ExoMars landing sites so we hope that studying in in Gale with Curiosity will help us understand those occurrences as well.
Sol 1337 means that we have just reached our second martian year since landing in 2012, Here is a birthday cake to the mission from the ChemCam team in Toulouse.
In martian calendar terms we are at aerocentric longitude Ls (L sub s) = 150o which is southern hemisphere, late winter.
We have followed up the Lubango drillhole quickly with another one at a nearby Stimson aeolian sandstone outcrop (Okoruso). The idea is to compare unaltered sandstone (Okoruso) to altered Lubango.
We have just completed our latest drillhole at Lubango. This is a drill into the Stimson sandstone, trying to characterise the silica-rich mineralogy: has it been derived from low temperature fluids after the rock has formed, or were high temperature silica grains brought in by winds as the sandstone was forming? CheMin XRD will help determine the answer as we can constrain the temperature from the identity of the minerals.
I will be Geo Science Theme lead for two sols this week and my colleague Dr Susanne Schwenzer will be joining me to get trained up for this operations role.