Surface processes recorded by rocks and soils on Meridiani Planum, Mars: Microscopic imager observations during Opportunity's first three extended missions

Ken E. Herkenhoff, John Grotzinger, Andrew H. Knoll, Scott M. McLennan, Catherine Weitz, Aileen Yingst, Robert Anderson, Brent A. Archinal, Raymond E. Arvidson, Janet M. Barrett, Kris J. Becker, James F. Bell, Charles Budney, Mary G. Chapman, Debbie Cook, Bethany Ehlmann, Brenda Franklin, Lisa R. Gaddis, Donna M. Galuszka, Patricia A. GarciaPaul Geissler, Trent M. Hare, Elpitha Howington-Kraus, Jeffrey R. Johnson, Laszlo Keszthelyi, Randolph L. Kirk, Peter Lanagan, Ella Mae Lee, Craig Leff, Justin N. Maki, Kevin F. Mullins, Timothy J. Parker, Bonnie L. Redding, Mark R. Rosiek, Michael H. Sims, Laurence A. Soderblom, Nicole Spanovich, Richard Springer, Steve W. Squyres, Daniel Stolper, Robert M. Sucharski, Tracie Sucharski, Rob Sullivan, James M. Torson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The Microscopic Imager (MI) on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has returned images of Mars with higher resolution than any previous camera system, allowing detailed petrographic and sedimentological studies of the rocks and soils at the Meridiani Planum landing site. Designed to simulate a geologist's hand lens, the MI is mounted on Opportunity's instrument arm and can resolve objects 0.1 mm across or larger. This paper provides an overview of MI operations, data calibration, and analysis of MI data returned during the first 900 sols (Mars days) of the Opportunity landed mission. Analyses of Opportunity MI data have helped to resolve major questions about the origin of observed textures and features. These studies support eolian sediment transport, rather than impact surge processes, as the dominant depositional mechanism for Burns formation strata. MI stereo observations of a rock outcrop near the rim of Erebus Crater support the previous interpretation of similar sedimentary structures in Eagle Crater as being formed by surficial flow of liquid water. Well-sorted spherules dominate ripple surfaces on the Meridiani plains, and the size of spherules between ripples decreases by about 1 mm from north to south along Opportunity's traverse between Endurance and Erebus craters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE12S32
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 20 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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