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Curiosity Checks Under the Dust on a Martian Rock
11.01.2017

Curiosity Checks Under the Dust on a Martian Rock

On a part of "Vera Rubin Ridge" where rover-team researchers sought to determine whether dust coatings are hiding rocks' hematite content, the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover took this image of a rock surface that had been brushed with the rover's Dust Removal Tool.

The image is shown in the usual full color of featured Mastcam images: with a color adjustment similar to white balancing for approximating how the rocks and sand would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth. Sunlight on Mars is tinged by the dusty atmosphere and this adjustment helps geologists recognize color patterns they are familiar with on Earth. In this case, the purplish tint of the brushed area suggested fine-grained hematite. Bright lines within the rocks are fractures filled with calcium sulfate minerals.

The brushed area is about 2.5 inches (6 centimeters) across. The image was taken on Sept. 17, 2017, during the 1,819th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars.

Mastcam also imaged this same scene using three special filters that help to identify hematite, an iron-oxide mineral that can provide information about ancient environmental conditions. A science-filters image (see PIA22066) identifies hematite in this brushed target even more clearly.

Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates the Mastcam. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover.

More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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