NASA's Curiosity rover finds clay cache on the Red Planet

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 3, 2019

And the Curiosity rover recently provided evidence of the clay minerals in the region, as shown in one of the newly released images from the probe.

According to a new blog post from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the space agency revealed that Curiosity found two rock samples, known as "Aberlady" and "Kilmarie", which contain "the highest amounts of clay minerals ever found during the mission".

The rover's mineralogy instrument, called CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy), provided the first analyses of rock samples drilled in the clay-bearing unit, NASA said.

By observing Mars' skies, NASA's Curiosity rover is obtaining data to help scientists gain a better understanding of the planet's atmospheric dynamics.

After finishing its exploration of Mount Sharp in the Gale Crater, where it landed back in August 2012, the Curiosity rover is now studying what NASA has been calling "the clay-bearing unit" due to the suspected presence of clay minerals. To the lower-left of the rover are its two recent drill holes, at targets called "Aberlady" and "Kilmarie". CheMin also found very little hematite, an iron oxide mineral that was abundant just to the north, on Vera Rubin Ridge. The rocks formed as layers of lake-bottom mud became compressed over millions of years. Water interfaced with silt after some time, leaving a bounty of the earth in the stones there, it said.

Amid this new drilling and analyzing, Curiosity took a break to watch some clouds - all in the name of science.

From May 7 to May 17, the rover took photographs of passing clouds using its black-and-white Navigational Cameras or NavCams.

In addition to finding clay, the rover is now attempting to create a more comprehensive picture of the Martian atmosphere, as it has caught on film water-ice clouds about 19 miles (31 kilometers) above the surface.

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