Curiosity Rover Reports Martian Soil Is Similar To Hawaii's

The mineralogical makeup is consistent with that of volcanic soil similar to what's found on the sides of Mauna Kea.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn


What's the Latest Development?

NASA's Curiosity rover has sent back the results of the first-ever in-depth analysis of soil in Mars' Gale Crater, and they reveal that, mineralogically speaking, it's similar to what's found on the sides of Hawaiian volcanoes. The Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument installed on the rover used X-ray diffraction, a common geological technology, to help identify the structures of minerals found in soil and powdered rock samples. It's one of ten instruments that are helping to determine if microbial life could have ever existed in the crater.

What's the Big Idea?

CheMin co-investigator David Bish says, "Much of Mars is covered with dust, and we had an incomplete understanding of its mineralogy...We now know it is mineralogically similar to basaltic material, with significant amounts of feldspar, pyroxene and olivine, which was not unexpected. Roughly half the soil is non-crystalline material, such as volcanic glass or products from weathering of the glass." He adds that the results are consistent with scientists' beliefs about a transition period from a wet to a dry environment. Next up from Curiosity: Results from another instrument designed to identify organic compounds in soil samples.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less