Powerful Mars Orbiter Directs Opportunity to Clays and Hydrated Minerals

This map indicates geological units in the region of Mars around a smaller area where Opportunity has driven from early 2004 through late 2010. The blue-coded unit encompassing most of the southern half of the mapped region is ancient cratered terrain. In the northern region, it is overlain by younger sediments of the Meridiani Plains, punctuated by the even younger Bopulu impact. At Endeavour Crater, in the upper right near the gold line of Opportunity’s traverse, ancient cratered terrain is exposed around the crater rim. Locations where orbital observations have detected clay minerals are indicated at the western edge of Endeavour and at two locations in the southern portion of the map. The mineral mapping was done by Sandra Wiseman and Ray Arvidson of Washington Universty in St. Louis based on observations by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

NASA is using its powerful science surveyor orbiting more than 241 kilometers above Mars to target the surface explorations of the long lived Opportunity rover to compelling science targets on the ground. Opportunity is currently on a long term trek to the giant crater named Endeavour, some 22 kilometers in diameter, which shows significant signatures of clays and water bearing sulfate minerals which formed in the presence of flowing liquid water billions of years ago.

An armada of orbiters and rovers from Earth are carrying out a coordinated attack plan to unlock the mysteries of the red planet, foremost being to determine whether life ever arose on Mars.(…) Read the rest of Powerful Mars Orbiter Directs Opportunity to Clays and Hydrated Minerals (1,329 words)

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(C) Ken Kremer for Universe Today, 2010. | Permalink | 6 comments | Add to del.icio.us Post

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