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:
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.
Planetary conjunction has ended and communication of science results between Curiosity , Mars orbiters and Earth is possible again. The first images show us in our position at the Stimson outcrop, and we are starting to take more analyses. The time gap does not appear to have affected the rover and we are resuming full operations..
Planetary conjunction - with no MSL operations - is an ideal time for a team meeting. We have just finished a a Mars Science Laboratory team meeting in Paris (Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle) and at the IAS Orsay. This gave us a chance to discuss the latest ChemCam data calibration and how that may change our views of the differentiation of the Mars crust. The idea of Mars as a solely basaltic world is being changed by MSL and ChemCam, we have seen many more silica-rich analyses than we expected.