Mars Exploration Rover Geologic traverse by the Spirit rover in the Plains of Gusev Crater, Mars

TitleMars Exploration Rover Geologic traverse by the Spirit rover in the Plains of Gusev Crater, Mars
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsCrumpler L, Squyres SW, Arvidson RE, Bell, III JF, Blaney D, Cabrol NA, Christensen PR, DesMarais DJ, Farmer JD, Fergason R, Golombek MP, Grant FD, Grant JA, Greeley R, Hahn B, Herkenhoff KE, Hurowitz JA, Knudson AT, Landis GA, Li R, Maki JN, McSween HY, Ming DW, Moersch JE, Payne MC, Rice JR, Richter L, Ruff SW, Sims M, Thompson SD, Tosca NJ, Wang A, Whelley PL, Wright SP, Wyatt MB
Date PublishedOct
ISBN Number0091-7613
Accession NumberWOS:000232252400013

The Spirit rover completed a 2.5 km traverse across gently sloping plains on the floor of Gusev crater from its location on the outer rim of Bonneville crater to the lower slopes of the Columbia Hills, Mars. Using the Athena suite of instruments in a transect approach, a systematic series of overlapping panoramic mosaics, remote sensing observations, surface analyses, and trenching operations documented the lateral variations in landforms, geologic materials, and chemistry of the surface throughout the traverse, demonstrating the ability to apply the techniques of field geology by remote rover operations. Textures and shapes of rocks within the plains are consistent with derivation from impact excavation and mixing of the upper few meters of basaltic lavas. The contact between surrounding plains and crater ejecta is generally abrupt and marked by increases in clast abundance and decimeter-scale steps in relief. Basaltic materials of the plains overlie less indurated and more altered rock types at a time-stratigraphic contact between the plains and Columbia Hills that occurs over a distance of one to two meters. This implies that regional geologic contacts are well preserved and that Earth-like field geologic mapping will be possible on Mars despite eons of overturn by small impacts.