37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 19 Mars I
Oral, HAD Intro., Tuesday, September 6, 2005, 9:00-10:30am, Music Concert Hall

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[19.02] Recent Results from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission

S. Squyres (Cornell University), Athena Science Team

The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have both yielded evidence for aqueous and sedimentary processes at their landing sites. In Gusev crater, Spirit found only trace evidence for the action of water on the basalt-covered plains of the crater floor. This water action left thin salt-rich deposits on the surfaces of rocks and in fractures within rocks, and what appear to be magnesium sulfate salt concentrations in soils. The older rocks in the Columbia Hills, however, are layered clastic rocks of impact and/or volcanic origin that show evidence for substantial aqueous alteration. At Meridiani Planum, Opportunity has found laminated rocks that we interpret to be mixed chemical and siliciclastic sediments. Environmental conditions that they record include episodic inundation by shallow surface water, evaporation and desiccation. After deposition, these rocks underwent a complex diagenetic history that resulted in recrystallization, vug formation, and growth of hematite-rich concretions. A stratigraphic section obtained within Endurance crater shows significant variation of rock chemistry and texture as a function of depth, indicating changes in depositional and/or diagenetic processes with time. As of July, 2005, Spirit is high in the Columbia Hills, and Opportunity is entering the etched terrain to the south of its landing site. The talk will review the most recent science results from both vehicles.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.