The rock abrasion record at Gale Crater: Mars Science Laboratory results from Bradbury Landing to Rocknest

Research areas:
Year:
2014
Authors:
  • N. T. Bridges
  • F. J. Calef
  • B. Hallet
  • K. E. Herkenhoff
  • N. L. Lanza
  • Stéphane Le Mouélic
  • C. E. Newman
  • D. L. Blaney
  • M. A. de Pablo
  • G. A. Kocurek
  • Y. Langevin
  • K. W. Lewis
  • Nicolas Mangold
  • S. Maurice
  • P. -Y. Meslin
  • P. Pinet
  • N. O. Renno
  • M. S. Rice
  • M. E. Richardson
  • V. Sautter
  • R. S. Sletten
  • R. C. Wiens
  • R. A. Yingst
Journal:
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-PLANETS
Volume:
119
Number:
6
Pages:
1374-1389
Month:
June
ISSN:
2169-9097
Abstract:
Ventifacts, rocks abraded by wind-borne particles, are found in Gale
Crater, Mars. In the eastward drive from ``Bradbury Landing{''} to
``Rocknest,{''} they account for about half of the float and outcrop
seen by Curiosity's cameras. Many are faceted and exhibit abrasion
textures found at a range of scales, from submillimeter lineations to
centimeter-scale facets, scallops, flutes, and grooves. The drive path
geometry in the first 100 sols of the mission emphasized the
identification of abrasion facets and textures formed by westerly flow.
This upwind direction is inconsistent with predictions based on models
and the orientation of regional dunes, suggesting that these ventifact
features formed from very rare high-speed winds. The absence of active
sand and evidence for deflation in the area indicates that most of the
ventifacts are fossil features experiencing little abrasion today.