The Curiosity rover discovers opals on Mars with evidence of a watery past
More than just a shimmering stone, garnet – rich in water – has now been found in Mars’ Gale Crater by NASA’s Curiosity Rover.
Martian water ice is abundant in columns But not so much at the equator (where Gale Crater is located). NASA agency Mars Curiosity probewhich is currently exploring the crater, had previously sent back its data DAN (dynamic albedo of neutrons) (Opens in a new tab) spectrometer, which was then analyzed by a team of researchers. In both the old and new Curiosity images, they note fracture halos, rings of light-colored sediments, which stand out because of their color; Further tests established that the lighter rock was in fact opal.
Since opal is composed mostly of water and silica, the presence of this mineral could mean that there was once enough water to make the depths of these fissures habitable. What’s more, the opals currently on Mars may one day be harvested for the water stored inside, providing a water source for any manned missions to the Red Planet.
Related: New evidence of liquid water on Mars
Mars is a barren, sun-drenched planet. Quantity radiation The surface of the planet makes it inhospitable to life as we know it. However, within the subsurface fractures, there is a much darker environment better protected from the intense radiation constantly bombarding Gail Carter from the outside. The rich opal waters within these fractures make their discovery even more exciting.
Research physicist Travis Gabriel, formerly of the University of Arizona, said statment. “Given the widespread fault networks detected in Gale Crater, it is reasonable to expect that these potentially habitable subsurface conditions extended to many other regions of Gale Crater as well, and perhaps to other regions of Mars. These environments would have been It was formed long after the ancient lakes in Gale Crater dried up.
Gabriel and his colleagues think the evidence for opal probably means that fracture halos on Mars were one of the last places to have an abundance of liquid water, and Mars may have dried up after it formed.
Opal is formed from a solution of water and silica. on me a landSuch solutions occur in geysers and hot springs as well as on the ocean floor and other bodies of water. When the silica particles settle to the bottom of the solution, they start to form garnets. It is possible to harvest water from opals because they may sparkle, but they are not actually minerals.
The minerals have a tightly bound crystalline structure, but opal’s structure is more bonded, which means that water can be extracted from it. Future Mars exploration astronauts may have an important source of water in fracture halos if more opals are found. According to the statement, a halo fracture one meter in diameter “could harbor approximately one to 1.5 gallons of water at the top of the roof.”
I gave this discovery now Rover Perseverance New focus. If fracture halos containing opals are present in Gale Crater, they might as well be somewhere Crater LakeWhere perseverance is looking for signs of a past life. Jezero Cater has been confirmed to have once been a lake, so there may be more mars garnets waiting to be discovered.
The research is described in a paper published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (Opens in a new tab).
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