Likely Pyroxene Mineral Identified in 'Jake'
This plot shows how an observation point in the rock "Jake Matijevic" has a composition consistent with the mineral pyroxene, according to an investigation by the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Curiosity rover. The data were obtained on Sept. 24, 2012, the 48th sol, or Martian day, of operations on the surface, when ChemCam zapped the Jake rock with its laser multiple times and analyzed the spectra, or different wavelengths of radiation, emitted from the plasma. This graph plots calcium oxide against magnesium oxide abundance determined from each of laser shots six to 30.
ChemCam's sixth laser shot is the first dot near near the lower left corner and successive shots move up and to the right. Taking into account the other element abundances along with those of calcium and magnesium allows one to determine that the laser beam was excavating into a material with composition consistent with diopside, a type of pyroxene mineral, at this location in the rock. The laser beam is approximately 0.014 inches (0.35 millimeters) in diameter and removes a layer on the order of 0.00004 inches (one micrometer) with each shot. The line in the plot gives the best linear fit to the data points.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/IRAP/SSI