Surface processes recorded by rocks and soils on Meridiani Planum, Mars: Microscopic Imager observations during Opportunity's first three extended missions

Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
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Abstract

The Microscopic Imager (MI) on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has returned images of Mars with higher resolution than any previous camera system, allowing detailed petrographic and sedimentological studies of the rocks and soils at the Meridiani Planum landing site. Designed to simulate a geologist's hand lens, the MI is mounted on Opportunity's instrument arm and can resolve objects 0.1 mm across or larger. This paper provides an overview of MI operations, data calibration, and analysis of MI data returned during the first 900 sols (Mars days) of the Opportunity landed mission. Analyses of Opportunity MI data have helped to resolve major questions about the origin of observed textures and features. These studies support eolian sediment transport, rather than impact surge processes, as the dominant depositional mechanism for Burns formation strata. MI stereo observations of a rock outcrop near the rim of Erebus Crater support the previous interpretation of similar sedimentary structures in Eagle Crater as being formed by surficial flow of liquid water. Well‐sorted spherules dominate ripple surfaces on the Meridiani plains, and the size of spherules between ripples decreases by about 1 mm from north to south along Opportunity's traverse between Endurance and Erebus craters.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Surface processes recorded by rocks and soils on Meridiani Planum, Mars: Microscopic Imager observations during Opportunity's first three extended missions
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
DOI 10.1029/2008JE003100
Volume 113
Issue E12
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description E12S32; 39 p.
First page 1
Last page 39