John Bridges: Mars Science Laboratory Blog
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I am Geo Science Theme Lead today (Geo STL). Our top priority is to retake the APXS compostional analyses on the Buckskin drill tailings, as we missed first time around. This Navcam image shows APXS placed over the tailings on a flat rock surface.
The outcrop in front of us is called Williams. It has some striking crossbedding, probably due to the flow of ancient rivers into Gale Crater. However, ChemCam has shown us that there is a great compositional variation in this outcrop so we are going to spend an extra day here before driving off. A question is whether the compositional variation is due to remobilisation of elements by fluids or reflects variations in the source material.
This fantastic new selfie has just been returned. It is a mosaic of images from MAHLI taken over our recent drill site at Buckskin. Buckskin has turned out to be very silica rich and very hydrated. They key to where the water is locked in the rocks will be in the detail of the ChemCam and CheMin analyses.
You can see more MAHLI images over Buckskin here:
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.