Update On Mars with Cornell Astronomer Steve Squyers, Principal Investigator on the Mars Rover Missions

February 20, 2004  Pasadena, California - Only one month ago, the Mars Rover called Spirit started working inside the Gusev crater and extended its robotic arm for the first time toward that large pyramid-shaped rock, "Adirondack," to find out what it was made of.

Big "Adirondack" rock that was Spirit's first test of its Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT). Turned out to be dark volcanic basalt under a layer of the reddish Martian dust. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell.
Big "Adirondack" rock that was Spirit's first test of its Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT). Turned out to be dark volcanic basalt under a layer of the reddish Martian dust. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell.

The answer is dark volcanic basalt beneath a dusty coating of red iron dust. In fact, many rocks in the Gusev crater seem to be basalt and scientists are trying to figure out if they came from a volcanic eruption IN the crater? Or were carried by a river of water into the crater long ago? Or maybe were even blown into the crater by strong Martian winds?

 

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