Curiosity finds an abundance of rock-forming chemical silica on Red Planet
Over three years after NASA’s robotic detective, Curiosity, started Mars exploration, it has stumbled on some intriguing findings that may help scientists complete the puzzle of how water formed, moved, and eventually either froze or disappeared from Mars.
In the past few months, for the first time, Curiosity has discovered the rock-forming chemical silica in abundance. It is a mineral that contains silicon and oxygen and, is generally deposited by water on earth.
Jens Frydenvang an astro-geologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico of the discoveries in a short video said that they don’t have complete understanding of what this means, so far.
He explained, “On earth, all the environments where we find this kind of silica require some kind of water activity. Often it’s also a very nice environment to find microbial life”.
As an addition to the puzzle, NASA explained that a part of the silica at a Martian rock drilled by Curiosity, known as ‘Buckskin’, belongs to a mineral dubbed tridymite, which is not commong on our planet and has never been detected on the Red Planet.
The mineral can be found in the silica-rich rocks spewed by volcanoes on Earth, this indicating that tridymite discovery at Buckskin could be proof for the volcanoes evolution on Mars. Scientists, analyzing the latest findings, said that there are chances that the formation of tridymite has taken place by a different process on Mars.
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