Project

Geochemical investigation of Mars with Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity

Funded by Science & Technology Facilities Council.

This is a bid for continuation of grant ST/R001278/1, internal Project ID 421464, Finance Project Code 05599 (please see notes for funder stipulations of submission of continuation grant).

A new line of investigation will be the search for more meteorites on Mars, in particular looking for a chondrite meteorite. This investigation will be part of the proposal for the 11th extended mission to be submitted to NASA this summer, and start once Opportunity has finished its investigation of the Endeavour Crater rim and starts to move away from it into the plains inside the crater. Meteorites on Mars have proven to be useful to understand past environmental conditions on Mars, ranging from atmospheric density to the presence of water. Groups of meteorites, in particular chondrites, are well-characterized from Earth-based studies and essentially provide a standard inserted into the Martian environment. Weathered meteorites thus act like Rosetta stones helping to decipher the Martian rock record. Below are the summary and objectives from the previous grant.

Summary: In her 10th extended mission, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity will investigate Noachian bedrock that predates Endeavour crater, study sedimentary rocks inside Endeavour crater, and explore a fluid-carved gully. The applicant proposes to continue his support of Opportunity’s operations and its Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) to evolve his work using iron geochemistry and mineralogy as an indicator of aqueous alteration, and to constrain clay mineral formation processes. Opportunity is the only rover exploring Noachian bedrock in situ until the landing of the ExoMars rover and has investigated a variety of clay minerals. Her investigation is therefore highly relevant to prepare for the ExoMars rover’s landing at Noachian, clay-rich Oxia Planum.

Objectives:

  1. Continue support of APXS and Opportunity operations
  2. Evolve iron as an indicator of aqueous alteration in the absence of Mössbauer data
  3. Use this indicator to constrain clay mineral formation processes
  4. Foster collaboration with UK 2020 ExoMars rover community

Total award value £9,939.40

People

Dr Christian Schroeder
Dr Christian Schroeder

Senior Lecturer, BES