The ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager at Gale crater: Review of the first year of operations on Mars

Research areas:
  • Stéphane Le Mouélic
  • O. Gasnault
  • K. E. Herkenhoff
  • N. T. Bridges
  • Y. Langevin
  • Nicolas Mangold
  • S. Maurice
  • R. C. Wiens
  • P. Pinet
  • H. E. Newsom
  • R. G. Deen
  • III Bell
  • J. R. Johnson
  • W. Rapin
  • B. Barraclough
  • D. L. Blaney
  • L. Deflores
  • J. Maki
  • M. C. Malin
  • R. Perez
  • M. Saccoccio
MAR 15
The Mars Science Laboratory rover, \"Curiosity\" landed near the base of a 5 km-high mound of layered material in Gale crater. Mounted on the rover mast, the ChemCam instrument is designed to remotely determine the composition of soils and rocks located a few meters from the rover, using a Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS) coupled to a Remote Micro-Imager (RMI). We provide an overview of the diverse imaging investigations that were carried out by ChemCam's RMI during the first year of operation on Mars. 1182 individual panchromatic RMI images were acquired from Sol 10 to Sol 360 to document the ChemCam LIBS measurements and to characterize soils, rocks and rover hardware. We show several types of derived imaging products, including mosaics of images taken before and after laser shots, difference images to enhance the most subtle laser pits, merges with color Mastcam-100 images, micro-topography using the Z-stack technique, and time lapse movies. The very high spatial resolution of RMI is able to resolve rock textures at sub-mm scales, which provides clues regarding the origin (igneous versus sedimentary) of rocks, and to reveal information about their diagenetic and weathering evolution. In addition to its scientific value over the range accessible by LIES (1-7 m), we also show that RMI can also serve as a powerful long distance reconnaissance tool to characterize the landscape at distances up to several kilometers from the rover. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.