Mars Exploration Rover Mission
The scientific objectives of the Mars Exploration Rover mission are to:
- Search for and characterize a variety of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity. In particular, samples sought will include those
that have minerals deposited by water-related processes such as precipitation, evaporation, sedimentary cementation, or hydrothermal activity.
- Determine the distribution and composition of minerals, rocks, and soils surrounding the landing sites.
- Determine what geologic processes have shaped the local terrain and influenced the chemistry. Such processes could include water or wind erosion, sedimentation, hydrothermal mechanisms, volcanism, and cratering.
- Perform "ground truth" -- calibration and validation -- of surface observations made by Mars orbiter instruments. This will help determine the accuracy and effectiveness of various instruments that survey Martian geology from orbit.
- Search for iron-containing minerals, identify and quantify relative amounts of specific mineral types that contain water or were formed in water, such as iron-bearing carbonates.
- Characterize the mineralogy and textures of rocks and soils and determine the processes that created them.
- Search for geological clues to the environmental conditions that existed when liquid water was present. Assess whether those environments were conducive to life.