Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mars Dirt Similar to Hawaiian Volcanic Soil

 

This pair of images from NASA's Curiosity rover shows part of a wind-blown deposit dubbed "Rocknest." At left is an unmodified shot, showing how the scene appears on Mars; the image at right has been white-balanced to show how it would look under Earth's lighting conditions.
 
The first-ever in-depth analysis of Martian dirt reveals a mineralogical makeup similar to that of Hawaiian volcanic soils, researchers announced today (Oct. 30).

The results come from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, which recently studied a scoop of Red Planet dirt with its Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument, or CheMin, for the first time.

"This Martian soil that we've analyzed on Mars just this past week appears mineralogically similar to some weathered basaltic materials that we see on Earth," David Bish, a CheMin co-investigator with Indiana University, told reporters. He cited as an example the "weathered soils on the flanks of Mauna Kea in Hawaii."

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