Thursday, February 9, 2023

Curiosity finds opal on Mars (and therefore a possible source of water)

There are opals on Mars. The Curiosity rover has been studying Gale Crater on Mars for several years. Now, a research team analyzing data from NASA’s Curiosity rover and its neutron spectrometer dynamical albedo of neutrons, Or DAN, has been able to independently verify on Mars that the fracture halo contains water-rich opal, which could serve as an important resource for human exploration. Opal is an amorphous form of silica.Due to which water is bound by physico-chemical forces.

This gem is formed when water erodes rocks containing silica, creating a solution that settles into the cracks and crevices of the rock. Over time, this solution hardens into a solid lump It can be hazy and opaque or present a dazzling display of color.

back to gale crater

The position is as follows: crater storm It is dotted with a large number of fractures. As Curiosity traversed the surface of Mars, researchers discovered light-colored rocks around fractures that erode parts of the Martian landscape, sometimes extending to the horizon in the rover’s images.

Archival data from its cameras shows that the rocks that make up the halo around it they are very similar to each other And data from the laser spectrograph on the rover shows that The light mineral from which they are made is nothing more than opal. The rover’s instruments previously collected samples of these rocks, and in the new study, researchers at Arizona State University analyzed this archival data using new techniques.

“Our new analysis of the archival data showed surprising similarities between all the fracture halos that we observed much later in the mission,” said US government research physicist Travis Gabriel. “To see that these fracture networks were so extended and probably filled with opal was incredible”.

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