Mars rover Curiosity has discovered the first mineral match from the Martian surface. The sample, which was taken from a target called “Confidence Hills”, had more haematite content than any rock or soil sample previously found during the two-year-old mission.
The hole drilled into a mountain yielded the mission’s confirmation of a mineral mapped from orbit, the US space agency said in a statement.
“This connects us with the mineral identifications from orbit which can now help guide our investigations as we climb the slope and test hypotheses derived from the orbital mapping,” said Curiosity project scientist, John Grotzinger from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
“We have reached the part of the crater, where we have the mineralogical information that was important in selection of Gale Crater as the landing site,” said Dr. Ralph Milliken from Brown University.
“We are now on a path where the orbital data can help us predict what minerals we will find and make good choices about where to drill. Analyses like these will help us place rover-scale observations into the broader geologic history of Gale that we see from orbital data,” he added.
The new sample is only partially oxidised and preservation of magnetite and olivine indicates a gradient of oxidation levels.
“That gradient could have provided a chemical energy source for microbes,” Dr Milliken concluded.
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Updated Date: Nov 05, 2014 12:23:57 IST