31st Oct 2012
First X-ray diffraction of Martian soil
Curiosity’s CheMin (Chemistry and Minerology) experiment has been studying a sample of the Martian soil, taken from Gale Crater, for the ‘fingerprints’ of minerals. The colours in the image represent intensity, with red being the most intense. Analysis reveals crystalline feldspar, pyroxenes and olivine. The soil is similar, says the JPL release, to “weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii.” Analysing the soil is key to Curiosity’s mission goal, which is to assess environmental conditions to see if Mars is or has ever been habitable, and the analysis of the soil is “consistent with…initial ideas of the deposits in Gale Crater recording a transition through time from a wet to dry environment.”

First X-ray diffraction of Martian soil

Curiosity’s CheMin (Chemistry and Minerology) experiment has been studying a sample of the Martian soil, taken from Gale Crater, for the ‘fingerprints’ of minerals.ย The colours in the image represent intensity, with red being the most intense. Analysis reveals crystalline feldspar, pyroxenes and olivine. The soil is similar, says the JPL release, to “weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii.” Analysing the soil is key to Curiosity’s mission goal, which is to assess environmental conditions to see if Mars is or has ever been habitable, and the analysis of the soil is “consistent with…initial ideas of the deposits in Gale Crater recording a transition through time from a wet to dry environment.”

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