A review of the phyllosilicates in gale crater as detected by the chemin instrument on the mars science laboratory, curiosity rover

Valerie M. Tu, Elizabeth B. Rampe, Thomas F. Bristow, Michael T. Thorpe, Joanna V. Clark, Nicholas Castle, Abigail A. Fraeman, Lauren A. Edgar, Amy McAdam, Candice Bedford, Cherie N. Achilles, David Blake, Steve J. Chipera, Patricia I. Craig, David J. Des Marais, Gordon W. Downs, Robert T. Downs, Valerie Fox, John P. Grotzinger, Robert M. HazenDouglas W. Ming, Richard V. Morris, Shaunna M. Morrison, Betina Pavri, Jennifer Eigenbrode, Tanya S. Peretyazhko, Philippe C. Sarrazin, Brad Sutter, Allan H. Treiman, David T. Vaniman, Ashwin R. Vasavada, Albert S. Yen, John C. Bridges

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, landed on Mars in August 2012 to investigate the ~3.5-billion-year-old (Ga) fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary deposits of Aeolis Mons (informally known as Mount Sharp) and the surrounding plains (Aeolis Palus) in Gale crater. After nearly nine years, Curiosity has traversed over 25 km, and the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) X-ray diffraction instrument on-board Curiosity has analyzed 30 drilled rock and three scooped soil samples to date. The principal strategic goal of the mission is to assess the habitability of Mars in its ancient past. Phyllosilicates are common in ancient Martian terrains dating to ~3.5–4 Ga and were detected from orbit in some of the lower strata of Mount Sharp. Phyllosilicates on Earth are important for harboring and preserving organics. On Mars, phyllosilicates are significant for exploration as they are hypothesized to be a marker for potential habitable environments. CheMin data demonstrate that ancient fluvio-lacustrine rocks in Gale crater contain up to ~35 wt. % phyllosilicates. Phyllosilicates are key indicators of past fluid–rock interactions, and variation in the structure and composition of phyllosilicates in Gale crater suggest changes in past aqueous environments that may have been habitable to microbial life with a variety of possible energy sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number847
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • CheMin
  • Clay minerals
  • Gale crater
  • Mars
  • Mars Science Laboratory
  • Organic preservation
  • Phyllosilicates
  • X-ray diffraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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