NASA’s Curiosity has recently come across some interesting discoveries that could solve the mystery of the presence of water on Mars.
Christian Science Monitor noted that the robot had found an abundance of the rock-forming chemical silica for the first time. Silica is a mineral composed of silicon and oxygen, which on Earth often deposited by water.
According to NASA, Curiosity has discovered much higher concentrations of silica at several sites it has investigated in the past seven months than it has first visited since landing on the Red Planet 40 months ago.
In a video that featured astrogeologist Jens Frydenvang of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, he said that they don’t have a full understanding yet of its meaning. He added that this kind of silica require some water activity here on Earth, and often, it’s also a very nice environment to discover microbial life.
NASA further shared the Curiosity drilled some silica at one rock called Buckskin is in tridymite, a mineral rare on Earth and never seen before on Mars.
On Earth, tridymite can be found in volcanic deposits with rich silica content. So, scientists suspect volcanic evolutions on Mars. But, it is also possible that mineral tridymite has formed by other processes.
A planetary geologist at Johnson Space Center of NASA in Houston, Elizabeth Rampe, said they could solve this by knowing whether the mineral in the sediment comes from a volcanic source or another origin. Rampe added that they were in their labs to see if there was a way to make this mineral without such a high temperature.
Geophysicist Ashwin Vasavada shared at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union that scientists have observed signs of the building blocks of life on the Red Planet. So, it is interesting to find out how the mystery unfolds.