A rock crushed under the Curiosity Mars rover’s wheels has dazzled mission scientists in more ways than one.
Mars is supposed to be the Red Planet, but the rock - dubbed "Tintina" - is a brilliant shade of white.
The unusual colour indicates the presence of hydrated minerals that formed when water flowed through the robot’s landing site in ancient times.
Water-bearing minerals in Tintina and elsewhere add to the growing catalogue of water evidence at this location.
Rover team members have been presenting mission findings at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Texas.
It was also announced that the rover has suffered another computer glitch; Curiosity had already been recovering from a memory problem discovered earlier in the month.
The description of hydrated minerals at Gale Crater follows an announcement last week that Curiosity had found clay minerals in a rock it had drilled. These clays indicate formation in, or substantial alteration by, neutral water.
That is significant for showing that conditions on the Red Planet could have supported life in the distant past, because many rocks studied previously were probably deposited in acidic water.
Speaking here in The Woodlands, near Houston, chief scientist John Grotzinger described Curiosity’s landing site as the first truly habitable environment found on Mars.
"What we’re really excited about is that this is the first time we’ve been able to follow through with a whole suite of different measurements that really demonstrate the place we found at Gale Crater was a very viable, habitable environment," he told BBC News.
Prof Grotzinger added that the team "felt really good" about the Martian location.
The one-tonne Nasa rover has been exploring Gale Crater, near the Martian equator, since touching down in August 2012. It drove over Tintina on 17 January, breaking it open to expose the dazzling white interior.
Prehistoric Underwater Wall Divides Scientists 2013 12 11 Two camps of scientists have faced off on the issue of the underwater structure known as Bimini Road off the coast of the Bahamas since it was first discovered in 1968.
One camp says it is a 12,000–19,000-year-old man-made structure—flouting the conventional understanding that advanced civilizations only emerged some 5,000 years ago.
The other camp says it is a natural formation.
Author, Researcher Lloyd Pye Dies 2013 12 10 We’re grieved by the sad news that writer and researcher Lloyd Anthony Pye passed away yesterday, December 9, 2013, after a battle with cancer. He was best known for his work with The Starchild Project.
Lloyd was a frequent welcome guest to Red Ice Radio, and we enjoyed the opportunity to speak with him about his work and his writing over ...
Mars May Have Harbored Life 3.6 Billion Years Ago 2013 12 10 Mudstones from Gale Crater, the original landing site of Curiosity, were formed in a lake which may have existed on the planet for hundreds of thousand of years according to scientists.The basin which is 150km wide with a mountain at its centre, could very well have sustained more than one lake approximately 3.6 billion years ago.
Research analysis shows that the ...
Geologists discover ’super volcano’ in Utah, possibly larger than Yellowstone 2013 12 10 Geologists at Brigham Young University have discovered what may be the world’s largest "super" volcano that erupted in Utah’s own backyard.
While there are a variety of volcanoes that blast away in different ways, super volcanic eruptions are the biggest that collapse into large calderas. Yellowstone Park is the remains of one of those calderas and it’s still very much alive ...
Rice grown near crippled Fukushima nuclear plant served to govt officials 2013 12 10 Rice from fields in the Fukushima prefecture, evacuated after the worst nuclear disaster in Japan, will be served to government officials for 9 days in a bid to demonstrate the safety of the country’s most-beloved crop, a local broadcaster reported.
The rice cultivated in several decontaminated fields in the Yamakiya District in Kawamata Town and Iitate Village, two areas designated as ...