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Martian Rock Crystals
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Martian Rock Crystals

February 3, 2014
This view of a Martian rock target called "Harrison" merges images from two cameras on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover to provide both color and microscopic detail. Curiosity inspected the rock's appearance and composition on the mission's 514th sol, or Martian day (Jan. 15, 2014). The Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) of the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument obtained the detail shown in the center of this view. The right-eye, telephoto-lens camera of the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument obtained the color information and wider context. ChemCam's laser and spectrometers provided composition information.

Harrison bears elongated, light-colored crystals in a darker matrix. Some of the crystals are about 0.4 inch (1 centimeter) in size.

Based on composition information gathered from an array of ChemCam laser shots on Harrison, the elongated crystals are likely feldspars, and the matrix is pyroxene-dominated. This mineral association is typical of basaltic igneous rocks. The texture provides compelling evidence for igneous rocks at Gale Crater, where Curiosity is on a traverse to reach the lower slopes of Mount Sharp near the center of the crater.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS/MSSS



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