Exploration of Gale Crater- part two

Due to an incapacity to post to this forum in established topics, I am issuing a second part of the original topic, 'The Exploration of Gale Crater'.
The server is receiving posts and repeatedly issuing a variety of incorrect 'error' statements, with the subsequent post content 'disappearing'.
Curiosity has tested water deposited gravel in a conglomerate type layer now tilted in place and this is an historic find for discussion.



From page one, as Fred's original topic, linked above, through page six at the date range of sol40 to sol 51, at page six of the linked section above, we discussed subjects, with some omissions, to the last week of September, 2012.
The conglomerate exposure of about sol 39, was followed by various pits, craters or channels, and the latest release of a traverse location displayed MSL about half way to Glenelg, at the east of the landing spot.
The actual rover position was about three quarters of the distance to Glenelg, with the distance not issued on a map satellite image.
Rock has been almost exclusively wind weathered apparently since departing the sol 39 target known as Hottah.
Substantial pits of depth, with undetermined dust cover in them, accompanies channels with fairly compacted bottoms, and layered side walls.
In part one, several persons added closeups of suggestive shaped rocks looking like seashell shapes, some still retaining bright portions of a surface layer material.
Waiting results of new traverse mapping, instrument results, and imaging with MAHLI, we can catch up on missing content, while watching Curiosity take the wheel.
A view of Hottah outcrop, of sol 39.
This is sol 54.


A view of the Glenelg area from a distance, looking towards Mount Sharp and the south east.


MSL index page for updates.


News explanation of the mosaic image of the Glenelg area.

Second link at #1, is the wrong image number. The intended image was of Hottah conglomerate layers of sol 39.



A probable source region in the crater wall slope for water transported to this landing zone spot.


Details of the Peace Vallis found in an enlarged view of the IAU Working Group for for Planetary System Nomenclature at the upper left.

Below a view of Peace Vallis across the rim of Gale crater. Rim materials were apparently carried from this location downhill towards Curiosity. Colored green.


Hoping this compensates for the bad second link in reply #1.

Working with a few of the prior sol date images, I found the internal structural fine linear pattern to be a challenge to present, even with the resolution of the MAHLI camera. Perhaps someone can offer a technique for detail preservation of the closeups?
This is a color balanced 1 to 1 sized full frame view at the same dpi adjusted in XNview.
The inset altered subframes are changed substantially only in color and lighting effects, and a downloaded view should show the linear 'fingerprint' ridges and color pattern.
The crystalline patterns certainly are a blend towards suggesting casts or fossil appearance. What an interesting new rover location.
This material nearly matches some of the Meridiani layered material, even the early Eagle crater closeups.
The most unique seems to be the crossed lines that appear fractured in rectangular mismatches at the upper right corner of the upper left 'reddish' subframe where the pattern is blue, and the surface is golden to reddish.
These linear ridges seem to be limited to about five to fifteen pixels in separation throughout the image. Is there an agreed measure for MAHLI image pixel distance?
The variations of three to six or eight count for the vacuosity arc recesses seems to substitute for spheroidal items in this material. We can discuss causes for the larger shapes and ordering, and hopefully someone can assess the minerals and other formation details. Is there a more correct color balance than the 'automated' display here?

An example of the original image balance on the MSL site.

A view of the closeup manually changed for shadow detail.

Sol 46 MAHLI camera original dpi and size

To jump forward to nearly real time reporting, the MAHLI images of a couple days past, sol 54, I have a trial use of a image host with dust on one side of a stone, in wind tail display, as drift dust, and on the other side of the stone, a entirely different display of fibrous and ordered, mossy appearance, dust or other type material, with elaborate clumping and threadlike patterns.

Is the fibrous material dust or a different material? Again, as in the MER Micro Imager pictures, we need greater detail and resolution for the most intriguing details.
Is a wind force or electrical stasis pocket responsible for the extreme differentiation of the content in appearances?
Simple 'auto' color and contrast balance, same dpi and size as original.
Is anyone performing enlargements of these images with greater detail? More informative color? In this image, the presence of the smaller 'washed out' direct sunlit triangular section distorts the overall auto balance, giving a fortuitous lesser contrast and elevated tonal response in the software control of the surfaces. Better shadow detail is seen. Color tends to be redder, however, in the shaded area.
I tried to insert a single color blank, but with questionable results. Perhaps I'll move to Image J or Photoshop elements again.

0054MH0016001002E1_DXXX MAHLI camera
credits: JPL/NASA/Caltech/MSSS

At the closeup is a few marked odd assemblies. Are they electrostatic forces, or as appears, stand alone structures based upon growth in place of multiple elements in geometric patterns? Also dark to black micro-spheroids again, as at Meridiani and Gusev.

I particularly liked the radial array of straight fibers with tiny spheroidal caps. Just barely discernable in size.

A further resolution of the geode type layering of the small stones.
This example is broken at two angles, showing the semi-translucent colored and tonally different material layers. Not quite as busy as a 'crazy lace' agate, but differing in patterns at varied angles. Other nearby stone show the 'rod-like terminations' which at Meridiani passed through the lengths of the 'stones'. Some even have protruding petaled terminations attached to the viewable upper surfaces, one each per stone as seen in fixed orientation.

Many linear fibers have spheroidal terminations which would qualify as micro-spheroid sized. All those tiny spheroids on fibers seem about the same size. The fibers with spheroids seem all about the same diameter.

Some branching fibers are of differing color and diameter, and those are more irregular along the length.

Some stones broken show yellowish cores with brighter whitish outer shells, assembled like fish egg clumps.

All the dark spheroids are very small in comparison to the layered translucent stones. They are generally slightly larger than the tiny spheroids which terminate the fibers.

1. Spheroids on fibers.
2. Dark spheroidal shapes.
3. Broken stones as a mixed collection, predominately layered repeats of irregular shaping, fairly stable thickness, but radiating to the margins of the current stone shapes. The surfaces of the stones have a reticulate appearance as a result.
Some inclusions appear on the broken surfaces close to the cores of radiating layers- appearing differing materials.

Three sets of sized material types.

Some dark medium 'spheroids' appear to have radiating fibers appearing as 'legs'. Those fibers are bright attached to the very dark lumpy irregular spheroidal shapes, possibly in preference to one side of the spheroids.

Many things to see at Gale crater, but very difficult in red toned images.


Are all these item types inorganic and non-living?
When will we gain a mineralogist for identification of detailed unusual finds?

Have I missed some items in this image of sol 54?

Still devising a better method of viewing small objects.

Same original as reply #4. Right side, near the sunlit section.

Sol 57 provides a view of a patterned symmetric spheroid internal structure possibly. There appear to be two partial views of this type, possibly two halves of a single item, or is this too much an extension of imagination? Symmetric recesses, and an axis appearing much like an apple core pattern. Split transects nearly the entire spheroid center. Not quite complete nor a certainty.

A combination of both halves matching at the portions viewed. This is a partial match, but statistics makes it nearly certain to be accurate in the parts viewed.

A larger image view of the same original, altered to allow the spheroid to be a natural differing color than the matrix.
Happy Halloween for those who study the holiday season. I've got you a sure footing for the month.

A more complete view of the scene with the original color, size, in full frame, online at the MSL site raw images.
sol 57 mastcam



Will we find the mission coordinators performing a detailing of these finds which are without equal as minerals on Earth?
Are these not mineral objects?

Sol 60 MAHLI image of the wheels on the left side of the rover, with the effects of the 780 pound(effective Mars weight at 40%) Curiosity crushing and disrupting the rough slab sections, scraping dust from some areas, and adding dust to others parts of the dark different colored slab sections.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

In the second image at reply #6 I mistakenly added a text id indicating the MAHLI camera was the source of the original image. That was a mastcam camera, and the image number is correct, only the camera referenced was wrong.
Here is a corrected image with a proper description and number, same image.

An area view of the local rocks.
Did mission controllers miss this symmetry and paired items as a source of interest for MAHLI closeups?
One more of many unexplained pass-bys perhaps?

On sol 60 the MAHLI closeup camera was used to image the various sides of the drift/dune crest, to the right of the tire track, opposite of the stone position.
In the dune makeup, there are sub-rounded pebbles and sand sized particles which are dust covered, tinted reddish, and there are smaller dark interspersed particles which are not at all dust covered, and which have either a rough texture with lateral extensions, or some others are glassy sheen surfaced, multiple parted, and have no dark extensions. The dark particles are apparently a small percentage of the total.


In a few feet of distance a variety of shapes and particle/material types are available.
Why was a symmetric artificial or organic suggestive item avoided in closeups?
Why was the heavily patterned mud stone avoided altogether when it was obviously well ordered by a regimen of controlling processes?
What is the path and goal in this weeks rover passage?
sol 60 MAHLI altered

Looking relatively east, into the low elevation terrain beyond Glenelg, clear deep channels and trough type transport lanes are easy to view, merging and showing small areas of resistant layered elevation portions along the paths. The sawtooth Gale crater rim portions are seen in the background. The foreground dune is the extension of the one upon which the symmetric discoid shape was positioned. The descent to an evacuated basin extends both right and left, with the MSL landing spot elevation at or above the terrain layer seen at the far left, where a sharp dropoff occurs into the basin. If open water concentrated in the basin above the solid surface, this current location of Curiosity could have been below the water line.
Have there been any tests to study alteration products of standing water and other chemistry at this point?

sol 57 ncam

North is to the left.
This is currently sol 62.

Hi, Dana!

And what is the "frog" holding in its mouth?

Place this on your left: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00061/opgs/edr/ncam/NRA_402905750EDR_F0050104NCAM00325M_.JPG
and this on your right: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00061/opgs/edr/ncam/NLA_402905750EDR_F0050104NCAM00325M_.JPG
and cross your eyes, and you'll see that the frog's "tongue"
is not a patch of sandy ground; it sticks out like a ticket!

12 hours into sol 62, and we have a maneuver of the rover displayed as exposing yet other partial circle structures, in this case a mutual object. Here the lack of matching symmetrical vacuosities is as distinct as the precise symmetry of the two items nearby at sol 57. These disc like shapes are fairly circular, close to each other, but not giving the same impression as the smaller versions which are in this scene hidden on the center left behind Curiosity.
The possibility of incidental positioning of four regular shaped partial viewed discs at a few feet separation is almost never seen, unless either a mineral formation, or a biological source, has a production cause occurrence here.
Due to the thin layers of erosion/removal or covering by solid and particles, the apparent symmetry of the sol 57 discs cannot be discounted by the less than fully exposed larger discs here. An identification by a professional would be valuable now.

The image is an ncam on sol 61, and the only alterations are the 3x inset and the text image number applied.
I would sure like to see MAHLI closeups, but the schedule gives new information wherever the MSL is positioned.

The scale of relative size is not correct in this set of examples of sol 57 and sol 61. All three examples are within a few feet of the others. They comprise a collection in a single incidence. Clearly the grey scale image shows a differing set of actions and conditions. The vacuosities are not as ordered. The layering masks the crystalline controls. The recesses are not symmetric. Even the circular line is not as precise. Tonality may be darker. grain size appears different.
Differing water content or other change of chemistry has given a different effect in a few feet of distance over time, or, at the same timing.


A few pages of examples on Earth, the site, mindat.org .
Pyrite dollars, familiar to many geologists and 'rock hounds' or students of minerals.

Disc shaped minerals are not common. The most familiar would be a close match as pyrite. The recesses seen in the best shaped Mars examples are not common in Earth examples. Possibly a secondary salts alteration or replacement was in progress at some time before or after moisture altered original pyrite 'dollars' on Mars.
Possibly a related mineral takes the Mars form with symmetric recesses.


General mineral description for the group of minerals.


Colour: Pale brass-yellow
Streak: Greenish-black

Appearance upon moisture-decay.
Moisture conditioning allows release of sulphuric acid. Tonality darkens.

Are there other minerals involved or responsible for the Glenelg scene and these disk shaped items?


Francisco J Oyarzun
I have been thinking about the platy layered material, but there are so few information statements from the professionals as yet, and this could be a slate type or metamorphic process construction, but that on Earth presumes great pressures and heat or other conditioning, whereas we are offered a suggestion local open water and lakes, deposition and exposure erosion, or any of a number of scenarios. The history is for the long term assessment, possibly.
Chemical testing should give a basic path of thought.
The smaller platy sections are numerous around this image scene. Apparently the material is tough and erosion resistant.

The short vertical arrayed 'stems' is interesting. They appear as possibly elevated only, as in a percolation by-product.

Pyrite is known in association with slates and metamorphosed materials. Not a scene for life, at formation, but the history was far longer than that period.
Is there any test showing pyrite or related chemistry now present as suggested by the shaping?
Replacement minerals?

Interesting reading, related chemistry, and linked research including seawater and sedimentary precipitation, microbiology involvement, more.

'Nickel sulfide formation at low temperature: initial precipitates, solubility and transformation products'

Richard T. Wilkin and David A. Rogers




'Iron pyrite oxidation is sufficiently exothermic that underground coal mines in high-sulfur coal seams have occasionally had serious problems with spontaneous combustion in the mined-out areas of the mine. The solution is to hermetically seal the mined-out areas to exclude oxygen'


Actual final link text where the blog here alters text to a happy face, add with no spaces used here to defeat the default conversion,
.../File : P yrite_-_disc...
should work.


lets try here.

Odd things going on.

Initial NASA comment was that it could be
a piece of shiny metallic hardware
from the rover itself, but,
since when is shiny metallic hardware translucent? http://mann.smugmug.com/Photography/mars/i-VPbk7dr/0/O/CR0403005421EDRF0050104CCAM010.jpg

Agate section, possibly? While this looks like a unique section in your image, and I haven't had time to look at this particular image original, I could guess at a thin section of an agate residual in erosion?
I have never seen that happen in that layer preference pattern, on Earth, non-the-less this is Mars, and the chemistry of the base rock is a banded structure. The rock is translucent, banded, and has internal structures similar to your find. Hydroxides, silica, calcite, or any number of chemistry's of the agates could show as in the Mars sample gravel, a banded preference in surface erosion resistance, giving a single layer survivability?




The local rocks are a papilliform agate like structure on worn surfaces, but was water and hydroxides or sulfides responsible for the formation?

To explain in a Mars image, and to try this new gallery page, a link to a recent altered MAHLI image along the rover travel path. A single layer of an agate-like rock would have a smaller structure than the visible resolution, and would be translucent, appearing as a organic tissue structure, in look-alike formation if lighted from the back sufficiently.
These are beautiful stones if color balanced and enhanced slightly.
I have seen slates and compression mud-stone with agate like effects in layering associated at various locations. There is nice example near Reno, Nevada and Pyramid Lake, but I have no closeup images for you yet.


Would the burial of a simple heat and pressure cause metamorphic transformation of the mud or silica's or calcite to a gel and slate, or, is this a heat with less pressure in display on Mars?

Would a type of sulphate have this much translucency?

How long could an organic remain smooth or translucent on Mars?

Would a piece of metal fall from the rover? I did see some tape uncurling from a wrap on the rover deck early on. Tape possibly?

As the erosion resistance of the layers is clear in eroded stones it seems likely to be a tougher layer showing details of Mars rock. A section of the 'fingerprint' surface lines in the 3D shape of the layer not yet eroded? If that is the case, would the Martian wind erode it to a visible smooth surface?

Nary a speck of dust on it either.