Curiosity rover sees more evidence of water on Mars
Last week, the rover's science team announced that analysis of powder from a drilled mudstone rock on Mars indicates past environmental conditions that were favourable
for microbial life.
Additional findings presented yesterday at a news briefing at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, suggested those conditions extended beyond the site of the drilling.
Using infrared-imaging capability of a camera on the rover and an instrument that shoots neutrons into the ground to probe for hydrogen, researchers have found more hydration of minerals near the clay-bearing rock than at locations Curiosity visited earlier.
The rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam) can also serve as a mineral-detecting and hydration-detecting tool, said Jim Bell of Arizona State University.
"Some iron-bearing rocks and minerals can be detected and mapped using the Mastcam's near-infrared filters," Bell said.
Ratios of brightness in different Mastcam near-infrared wavelengths can indicate the presence of some hydrated minerals.
The technique was used to check rocks in the "Yellowknife Bay" area where Curiosity's drill last month collected the first powder from the interior of a rock on Mars. Some rocks in Yellowknife Bay are crisscrossed with bright veins.
"With Mastcam, we see elevated hydration signals in the narrow veins that cut many of the rocks in this area," said Melissa Rice of the California Institute of Technology,
"These bright veins contain hydrated minerals that
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