Curiosity Rover Discovers Continental Crust On Mars Similar To Earth

Posted: Jul 15 2015, 7:07am CDT | by , Updated: Jul 15 2015, 7:12am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Curiosity Rover Discovers Continental Crust on Mars Similar to Earth
  • ChemCam Detects Rock Formation on Mars that is Similar to Earth’s Geological Structures

The NASA Curiosity Rover’s ChemCam laser instrument has detected a rock formation on the surface of Mars that is similar to earth’s geological structures.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover has once again made a brand new discovery. A few light-colored rocks have been found on the surface of the Red Planet that bear an uncanny resemblance to the geological formations on our own planet earth.

Earth’s granite continental crust was mirrored in these rocks. This is a first time discovery of the similarities and it has the scientists in a tizzy alright. 

As the Rover ChemCam went on exploring the terrain of Mars with its red dust and rocks it came upon a series of rocks with huge bright crystals on them. This has never before been seen on Mars. 

"Along the rover's path we have seen some beautiful rocks with large, bright crystals, quite unexpected on Mars" said Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory, lead scientist on the ChemCam instrument.

"As a general rule, light-colored crystals are lower density, and these are abundant in igneous rocks that make up the Earth's continents."

The surface of Mars is based on basalt. And it has igneous rocks to boot. The special crystal-bearing rocks were found in Gale Crater on the surface of Mars. Some of these rocks were a couple of billion years old. What was significant about them was their light hue. 

Credit: NASA/JPL

Researchers from the United States and France took a look at 22 parts of these rocks and they found that these rocks are very fertile in feldspar. And there is some quartz in them too.

These crust rocks bear a very close resemblance to TTG (Tonalite-Trondhjemite-Granodiorite) which is a terrestrial rock of the Archean Era. Thus the evidence for continental crust on Mars is very real indeed.

Gale crater on Mars is a 3.6 billion year old rock formation. From its outer boundaries you can peer down into the depths below. The Rover was able to pick up info that a satellite could have never captured in the form of close-up images. 

ChemCam meanwhile which is a laser-induced breakdown spectrometer gave chemical analyses of the rocks. This really helped scientists determine the nature and properties of the rocks.

Mars has always held a certain amount of mysterious mystique for us earthlings. The earlier image of Martians as LGM (little green men) stoked the public’s imagination. Then the possibility of the presence of water on the canals of Mars was another big surprise for us on planet earth.

Finally, with this recent discovery, the stage is set for an in-depth analysis into the geology of Mars and its resemblances to our planet’s rock formations. 

The study published this week in Nature Geoscience.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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