If on Earth we are delighted to find colored stones scattered around, imagine encountering something like that on another planet. That’s why, last weekend, Curiosity devoted itself entirely to analyzing a curious specimen it found on Mars. Scientists are using all the tools aimed at analyzing chemical components present in the robot to solve the mystery.
In a 3-day action plan, a type of igneous rock divided into flat leaves called Breamish is being investigated in detail for presenting different colors than those usually observed at the site. After this task, information related to organic molecules and gases from the atmosphere and samples collected by Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) will be unveiled from ChemCam, a device that fires lasers and pulverizes the collected pieces.
The finding occurred during a “backpacking” by Curiosity on the Red Planet, undertaken by the machine to climb Mount Sharp, in the center of the Gale crater. Before that, the space vehicle took a wander through an area called the clay-bearing unit, the main component of the local soil – and, without resting, intends to go further.
Continuing her journey, the adventurer advances towards a region full of sulfates, such as magnesium and plaster. Since this element usually forms after water evaporates, chances are there are clues to the history of the liquid on Mars.
A world of discoveries
Researchers claim that the planet already had water on its surface, with the possibility, even, that it generated a potentially habitable environment. The issue has been investigated for decades and can now gain new details.
Abigail Fraeman of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that “Curiosity was developed to go further than Opportunity. With it, we are discovering an ancient world that has provided the basis for the emergence of life for longer than we imagined.”
In a few weeks, things will get even more interesting. That’s because Perseverance, a probe that will join its companion in extraterrestrial territories, will be launched and promises strong emotions.