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
Close-Up Detail in "Point Lake" OutcropThe Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was positioned about 4 inches (10 centimeters) from the surface of the "Point Lake" outcrop when it took this image of a portion of the outcrop's steep face. This close-up view and others from MAHLI on the same Martian day -- Sol 303 of the mission (June 13, 2013) -- show that many holes in the rock are occupied by what appears to be material different from that of the main rock itself. Specifically, the material in the holes seems to be finer-grained, slightly darker, and slightly more resistant to weathering. In many instances, there is a moat of sorts between the more resistant interior material and the main Point Lake rock.
In this image, the larger hole containing a darker inclusion with a fleck of bright material in the moat is roughly 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter.
Curiosity's science team chose to approach Point Lake with the rover in June 2013 to get a closer look after earlier imaging of Point Lake (such as at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA17071">http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA17071 ) left uncertainty about whether this outcrop is igneous or sedimentary.
A closer look still leaves room for interpretation. The material in the holes observed with MAHLI could be pebbles that blew into pre-existing holes, but it seems unlikely that the same type of pebble would blow into every hole. They might be pebbles that were part of the rock all along, as would be expected if Point Lake is sandstone with a few coarser pebbles (and therefore supporting the sedimentary interpretation). If Point Lake is igneous, the material in the holes might be individual, larger crystals within an otherwise finer-crystalline rock. Such crystals are called phenocrysts, and indicate that they got a head start on cooling before the rest of the rock was erupted onto the surface. Finally, the material in the holes could be secondary -- having been deposited at a later time in pre-existing holes of the rock from percolating fluids or gases. This last scenario could fit either the sedimentary or igneous interpretation, without favoring one over the other.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS