12.13.2016 Now and Long Ago at Gale Crater, Mars
12.13.2016 Where's Boron? Mars Rover Detects It
10.03.2016 Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Murray Buttes'
10.03.2016 Butte 'M9a' in 'Murray Buttes' on Mars
09.19.2016 Ribbon Cutting
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 5)
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 4)
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 3)
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 2)
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 1)
08.26.2016 Out-of-this-World Records
03.30.2016 Erisa Hines
03.30.2016 Buzz Aldrin
02.12.2016 Women in Science
02.09.2016 Adam Steltzner, a JPL engineer
01.27.2016 Night Close-up of Martian Sand Grains
01.27.2016 Curiosity Self-Portrait at Martian Sand Dune
12.17.2015 Alteration Effects at Gale and Gusev Craters
12.17.2015 Full-Circle View Near 'Marias Pass' on Mars
12.11.2015 Surface Close-up of a Martian Sand Dune
12.11.2015 Martian Sand Disturbed by Rover Wheel
11.24.2015 Carbon Exchange and Loss Processes on Mars
11.17.2015 Chemical Laptop 1
Measuring the Age of a Rock on MarsA rock in the Sheepbed mudstone deposit in the Yellowknife Bay area inside Gale Crater is the first rock on Mars ever to be dated by laboratory analysis of its ingredients. The analysis using measurements of the rock's potassium and argon content by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover yielded an estimate that it is 3.86 billion to 4.56 billion years old.
The mudstone is a sedimentary rock formed by particles that had started in rocks at higher elevations -- labelled on this image as "sediment sources" -- and washed downslope before being deposited at Yellowknife Bay.
The age measured for the rock is not the depositional age of the mudstone. Researchers calculate that it is a mixture of the ages of the mineral components delivered to the mudstone via stream transport from the crater rim and the highlands beyond, as indicated by the yellow symbols. Estimates of age based on the density of impact craters on different areas of Mars put the Gale impact and surrounding highlands in the range 3.6 billion to 4.1 billion years old, a good match to the new age estimate from laboratory analysis.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech