Minerals found in Mars rocks strengthen case for past life-friendly conditions
The Martian rock samples dug up by NASA's Curiosity robotic rover show that there is a wide diversity of minerals, allowing scientists to piece together the planet's past.
The results have been published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Elizabeth Rampe, first author of the study and NASA researcher at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, said the rocks might reveal how Mars became a dusty, barren wasteland.
"We have all this evidence that Mars was once really wet but now is dry and cold. Today, much of the water is locked up in the poles and in the ground at high latitudes as ice. We think that the rocks Curiosity has studied reveal ancient environmental changes that occurred as Mars started to lose its atmosphere and water was lost to space."
Four samples were taken after Curiosity drilled into different sites at the lower layers of Mount Sharp in Gale crater, an area thought to have once harbored an ancient lake.