NASA’s Mars Rover Finds Rock With Earth-Like Chemistry


The rock was chemically more akin to an unusual type of rock found on oceanic islands like Hawaii and St. Helena, as well as in continental rift zones like the Rio Grande, which extends from Colorado to Chihuahua, Mexico.

Curiosity arrived on Mars two months ago to learn if the most Earth-like planet in the solar system was suitable for microbial life. Last month, Curiosity’s laser was used to zap the football-sized rock and the rover analyzed the pulverized material, as well as tiny pits left behind, to determine its chemical composition.

The rock, named after a Jet Propulsion Laboratory rover engineer, Jake Matijevic, who died shortly after Curiosity’s landing, was also rich in feldspar-like minerals, which provided clues about the rock’s history.

In colonial times, hard apple cider was put into big barrels and in the winter the liquid would partly freeze. "You’d crystallize out ice and you’d make more and more and more concentrated apple-flavored liquor," Stolper said.

The rover meanwhile has moved on to testing and cleaning of its soil scoop. Eventually, scientists want to funnel soil samples to Curiosity’s onboard laboratory for more extensive chemical analysis.The rover is part way to its first science target, an area known as Glenelg, which has three different types of rock intersecting.




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